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Friday, 20 April 2012

It's that Rohantime of year!

Todays Blog entry choice was simple - those nice folks over at the Rohan shop in Ambleside called me up and asked for an interview; Yeah, yeah, happens to me all the time (not)! 
Thanks Paul (Russell), it was nice of you to think of me.

I've been interviewed for outdoor and photo mags before but sometimes the things that I have said have been mangled out of recognition lost in translation so it was good to see my comments published word-for-word because I believe in the points I made, which I will repeat here. To read the full interview (and view my photos too of course) go to

Excerpts from the RohanTime interview:

RT. How did you get into photography?
DW: I started out from school but here’s the thing; I decided I’d like to be an adventure sports photographer... when I was just leaving school.  So I packed my bag, hitch hiked to the Lakes from my home in Brighton, got a job washing dishes at Wasdale Head and spent two years teaching myself to climb and photograph. Nowadays I spend time telling aspiring photographers that this is not the best way to do it – go to college, get trained, make your life easier. But that’s how I did it.
Wasdale Head seen from Kirkfell.

RT. What landscapes inspire you?
DW: Landscapes don’t inspire me. Light inspires me. When I go to the mountains or the desert or the coast or whatever, I experience the outdoors and all the possibilities that these places can bring and yes, that’s inspiring...but the landscape itself, that only comes alive for me when the light is turned on. Photography is all about light. My back garden looks fantastic in the right light.

RT.What makes a good photo?
DW: Personal vision is what makes a good photo. A photograph “speaks” to people when it conveys what the photographer wanted to say. Photography is a language – a visual language – and it can say very eloquent things or it can be meaningless and banal. We instinctively know the difference because when we look at a photo on a page it either connects with us and we look at it or it doesn’t, in which case we turn the page and move on. Having said that, there’s a right way and a wrong way to convey the message. I have three simple rules for aspiring photographers:
  1. Backgrounds ruin pictures. All your creative energy and concentration goes into your subject but you nearly always forget to look at all the crap in the background!
  2. Nearly all photos have to have a strong, easy to recognize focal point. Most photos that fail don’t have one.
  3. KISS. Keep it simple, stupid! The simpler the picture the more power it will have. I spend most of my time trying to take as much out of the photo as possible. Look at it this way; An artist starts with a blank canvas, adds paint until it look great, then stops. If the artist adds too much, it looks a mess. Photographers have to do the opposite. We start with the whole world in front of us and our job is take away and take away until we are left with a simple, direct picture that conveys what we wanted to say. Simple, simple, simple.

My pal, Kathy Grindrod works for the
Scottish Avalanche Information Service,
on Cairngorm.
She knows just how severe it gets up there!
RT. Where have the most extreme conditions you have experienced?
DW: The Cairngorm plateau in winter. Seriously. People die up there, all the time.

RT. Who or what would you most like to photograph?
DW: My great ambition is to shoot for National Geographic. It’s the home of the finest photography on the planet and the reason for that is their attitude. It can take a year and tens of thousands of photos to put one major NG story together. No other publisher gives photographers that kind of lee-way.

RT. What piece of equipment could you not be without?
DW: Nothing. There is no piece of equipment that is indispensable to me. If I haven’t got it with me I learn to do without. I improvise or re-think my approach. Kit is over-rated. If I haven’t got a camera with me, so what? Relax, use your eyes and just enjoy the moment. Actually, sometimes not having a camera is better – at least I can appreciate the reality of the situation and not be fussing over f-stops and shutter speeds. But I will feel guilty, not getting a shot.

RT. Do you ever go anywhere with out a camera?
DW: Yeah, all the time. See above!