2018 - A Year Of Change

So it's a been a while since I last blogged, and i’ll be honest I was a bit on the fence writing this review as it’s a bit old hat, but then on the flipside of that I think it's good to take a bit of time for self-reflection, especially where your photographic development is concerned.

If i’m being honest, I’ve not been too happy with my photography this year - it’s felt a bit rushed time-wise when I’ve tried to make images, which is mainly down to getting the new business off the ground. I knew that in the short term the photography would suffer a touch, but that’s OK. Being realistic/pragmatic are probably two character traits I have in abundance (I’m a natural pessimist) so it’s been no issue for the photography to take a back seat. This should all change from now on really, as the business is starting to flourish and I’ve finally gotten to grips with what works and what doesn’t commercially. I’m also planning to venture into the unknown with vlogging so stay tuned if you want to see me make an idiot of myself!

The Beast from the East  (not me)

The Beast from the East (not me)

The year started pretty cold (literally) - the country was in the grip of its first significant cold snap in a good while, and like every other landscaper I felt a certain need/pressure to 'cash in’ as it were. Two main problems were faced, firstly I was still working shifts, which of course meant the white stuff would land right in the middle of a long stretch of back shifts. This meant I only had a few short periods before work to try and make some images. The second and more common issue for most is that while we all set out with good intentions to shoot the snow, the reality is for the most part many places are extremely difficult to get to! Here in the Lakes, mountain passes become impassable, many roads down to the lakesides don't get gritted, throw in a few fallen trees and all of a sudden you're stuck in the house twiddling your thumbs, or at best trying to photograph things within close range of the house. Lord knows how the Scandinavians must laugh at us. I did manage a couple of decent mornings though - probably my favourite was actually made on very limited time, Isthmus Stones, which I barely had an hour to shoot before work.

I couldn't help thinking I'd missed an significant opportunity though.

Lens District Gallery

Lens District Gallery

Spring was slightly more productive, though during this period in the background I was working on plans to take over the gallery - with the photography taking something of a back seat despite making some better images than I'd managed in the winter. I've already blogged about the starting up of the business which you can read here, looking back on that period it may turn out to be a real turning point in my life. That seems quite a bold statement, and I'm not one to over-exaggerate, but the sense of calm and peace I now have at home contrasted with how I felt 8-9 months ago where I was suffering from crippling stress is like chalk and cheese. I even managed a bluebells image I was happy with so I must have been in a more positive mindset!

The summer period was all go in the shop, finding my feet, having my eyes opened to the general public, and busy documenting all the ridiculous things people mutter at the window :-) but on a serious note taking over the business in the summer worked well, as this is traditionally the least productive time for Landscape Photography and I was pleased to have a bit of time away from the camera and only pick it up sporadically. Ironically it's this period I've taken two images which are probably the two best sellers on the walls currently - turns out you can make images in the summer!

Fantastic Autumnal Conditions during a workshop

Fantastic Autumnal Conditions during a workshop

Autumn

The last two have been real disappointments weather-wise, last year was pants and this year wasn’t all that much better. We as photographer’s have a romanticized view of Autumn (which there’s nothing wrong with) the reality is given our extremely changeable climate in the UK it can be gone in the blink of any eye. What I observed this year was colours changing at odd times (possibly due to the drought-like summer we had). Patches of the Lake District seemed to have far more localised colour than others, so it was a case of really hunting out the best stuff, which again I was bit time pressed to do at this stage. I did however capture a few I was happy with, and ran several successful Tuition Days during this time which seemed to have the weather gods on my side - I’m always pleased when the weather plays ball when people spend their hard-earned money to travel to the Lake District to work with me.

I’ve collated some of my favourite images from throughout the year below:

Competition Success

Buttermere Bloom - Buy this print

Recognition for your efforts is always nice, and I was fortunate enough to win the Sunday Times Award in this year’s Take A View Landscape Photographer Of The Year for my image ‘Buttermere Bloom’, as well as having another image ‘The Birds’ Highly Commended, and two others Commended. To get four images in the book was a shock to say the least, but nonetheless very happy and grateful to be recognised for my efforts.

In the earlier part of the year I was Commended in Outdoor Photographer Of The Year for the second time, which again was really pleasing as it’s a magazine I love to read and the competition itself always attracts a really strong entry.

Finishing the year - some faves from other photographers

Last year I picked out a few images from other photographers which really caught my eye - it’s a real pleasure to scan through images from the work of others that you find inspiring, something I’m always doing. I like many others (especially on Twitter as the format really works for sharing the work of others) try to share images that catch my eye as much as possible - as an aside it would be nice if I saw more people who have great social media influence / reach do more in this regard, social popularity in the majority of cases doesn’t equal quality, something some folk would do well to remember.

If i’d gone through this process again I’m sure I’d find another 20 images so apologies if I’ve missed anyone!

Here’s some images that really got my attention this year and links to their work from - Jenifer Bunnett / Joe White / Glenys Garnett / Greg Whitton / Leigh Dorey / Matthew Cattell / Neil Burnell / Nigel Danson / Colin Bell / Si Kenyon / Ollie Pocock / Jay Birmingham:

On a final note I’d just like to say thanks to a few folk who’ve helped get my Gallery business off the ground with contributions of their work to Lens District Gallery, it’s been great working with you this year - in no particular order:

Dave Fieldhouse / Carmen Norman / Mark Littlejohn / Billy Redden / Mike Hilton / Mike Pearson / Neil Burnell / Stuart Holmes / Tristan Tinn

Wishing you all a happy and successful 2019 :-)

Stuart