Who has inspired me as a photographer?

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It’s a question that I’ve been asked numerous times on Instagram but it’s not a question I like to answer with brevity because a small number of photographers have inspired me for different reasons and I think the answer deserves more than just a name.

I recall saying in the past that it’s the outdoors and Mother Nature that inspire me the most and I believe that’s still the case. Where possible, I purposefully place myself in a bubble with a slight disconnect from the rest of the world. Solitude and privileged moments in nature are still at the top of my creative needs – an endeavour with many personal benefits, including: mental well-being, physical therapy and the breathing room to connect with the landscape in such a way that feeds the therapeutic benefits and influences & informs my photography. You’re perhaps thinking about the conflict of this quiet world I meander through with the extroverted personality that you’d assume one would need to be a ‘YouTuber’. I’m not the only photographer on YouTube who started in a place of uncertainty, introversion and a lack of confidence. But with enough drive, passion and willing, you can break down the obstacles and slowly claw back the confidence you once knew. My video persona is not just an honest reflection of who I am, but it’s a persona that’s gradually developed to move me closer to the person I want to be (again). The point is that we’re all on a journey, things aren’t always what they seem, some times it’s bloomin hard, but I believe in following a path of personal and creative integrity for sustainability in passion.

I’ve talked before about the importance of reflection and taking some time to think a bit more deeply about where we’ve come from, the choices we’ve made and the turning points in our photography to help us understand the progress (or lack of) and meaning in our work. The journey that shaped me as a photographer before I started a YouTube channel was a bit of a rough ride – it was having Meg and finding woodland photography that turned my life around but sometimes you can become too insular and fail to acknowledge other factors or people that have been a creative influence. I’ve harped on enough about my back story, so I now want to give due credit to the photographers that helped influence my work and thinking along the way…

Joe Cornish

Defiance by Joe Cornish
Defiance by Joe Cornish

I’m sure Joe is at the top of many photographers’ lists. He’s an obvious choice for me as at one point he was the only landscape photographer I’d heard of. As someone who grew up in the north east of England, I was frequently exposed to his pioneering captures of the local landmarks such as Roseberry Topping and the surrounding moorland views. With over 40 years of experience, I regard Joe as one of a handful of true masters of the craft, and I don’t use the word ‘master’ lightly. There was once a time where I would line up with a dozen other photographers who were all attempting to emulate Joe’s work but now I’m fortunate enough to call him a friend, have my work on his wall and his work on mine. Most humbling is the time I’ve spent with Joe exploring our local countryside – we both concentrate on our vision but witnessing his craftsmanship firsthand is always inspiring. Despite Joe’s success, I think it’s fair to say that he’s underrated in today’s social media driven world, but his body of rarely seen personal work is simply tremendous. What I take from Joe is his ability to interpret a location, perfectly capture his unique vision of it in camera and translate his thinking with an approach to post-processing that’s respectful and empathetic towards reality and his love for wild places. Joe’s website →

Mark Littlejohn

The Distance by Mark Littlejohn
The Distance by Mark Littlejohn

Back in early 2015 I had no idea who Mark was or that he’d won Landscape Photographer of the Year 2014 – I wasn’t even aware that such competitions existed. 2015 was a year of mixed emotions as I revelled in the company of Meg, rekindled my interest in photography which then became a passion and a source of frustration, tears and joy. I’d already begun my introspective journey and stubborn quest to discover my identity as a photographer, and somewhere along the line I came across Mark’s work which instantly struck a chord. His ability to translate his emotionally connection through his photography was precisely what I was craving. At the time, I was struggling to appreciate and understand my own work whereas Mark’s work appeared to demonstrate that he was acutely aware of what he loved and why he loved it. As well as his portrayal of mood and contentedness in embracing imperfection, I’ve long admired his strong identity and ‘straight down the line’ attitude. “Bugger it!” Mark’s website →

Colin Bell

Tarn Tales - Holme Fell by Colin Bell
Tarn Tales – Holme Fell by Colin Bell

I believe it was in the latter part of 2015 that I discovered the beautiful photography crafted by Colin. There was something about his choice of subject, the intimate nature and careful consideration of his images that made me connect with his work. I also like to know a bit about the photographers I admire and the unassuming nature of Colin’s online presence helped me to see that there’s more than just beautiful photographs – there’s meaning, substance and a story to his practice. Similar to me, Colin has experienced health issues and he’s found solace in creativity and absorbing himself in an environment for reasons than go beyond a quest for photographs. His discipline and integrity, along with a superb eye for balance and tone, means that Colin’s work continues to inspire. In a world of continual pressure to produce ‘content’, it’s a pleasure to admire work from disciplined projects that let the images happen as when both the photographer and subject are ready. Colin’s website →

This limited list is purely about photography, not YouTube. These are examples of artists that were there as a source of inspiration during the most crucial part of my journey and I’m thankful for their insights in helping me to find my own voice and develop my own style but with lingering notes like a doff of a hat in appreciation.

I now talk with Joe and Colin on a regular basis and I can’t stress enough how valuable it is to have a fellow photographer relationship that you trust – to discuss ideas, critique work, share thoughts and sometimes have disagreements. It doesn’t matter how good or bad I feel about some of my work, how successful or unsuccessful an image or video is, to have a friendship that involves honesty and mutual respect is incredibly important for growth, awareness and being grounded. If you can find critique and admiration that’s coming from a good place, then take it, be thankful for it and always give back with the same level of honesty.

I’ve included links to the photographer’s websites, so please take a look and be inspired.
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