Castles: Standing in dramatic locations up and down the coast, North Northumberland has plenty to offer the photographer in terms of historic buildings. I am only following in the footsteps of the “picturesque” painters such as JMW Turner and co. in feeling the irresistible draw of the castle as a subject for a composition. These are much loved views and I relish the challenge of finding a new photograph from a familiar subject. For me this is found through observation and the process of Finding the Photograph that is lurking somewhere in that classic view.
The Sky: We have big skies in North Northumberland and some days they can reach from horizon to horizon. We rarely get the slate grey, featureless skies associated with the Atlantic weather of the West coast. Even on a grey day, it's inspiring to look more closely at the clouds and the patterns formed by the many layers and interacting shades of grey. Whether up on the moors and hills or down on the beach, the big sky often draws my gaze. A clear blue sky is not uncommon but what photographer doesn't appreciate the interest added to a sky by a few beautifully shaped clouds?
The Sea: Ever-changing but always present, the sea is a constant source of inspiration for me. I want to capture an atmosphere in my photographs and the raging waves or gentle ripples of the sea are a great choice of subject to convey the feeling of the day. The sea reflects the sky so just as a bad mood can be infectious among a group of people, the mood of the sky will be picked up and multiplied by the sea. Grey days will leave the sea colourless, cold and dark; sunrises light up the sea with orange and red; and on the brightest days the sunlight reaches the sandy seabed to give clear water and Caribbean turquoise colours. Observing the cycles of the tides and studying waves and their ways of moving gives a fascinating insight into nature and leads to inspiration in where to find a great photograph.
Wildlife: Wildlife is in decline in so many parts of the country but the story is different here. We have many layers of protection such as the Northumberland National Park and the Northumberland coast Area of Outsanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Across the area we have many Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), historical sites protected by English Heritage, and huge areas protected under the ownership of the National Trust. No wonder North Northumberland is a haven of protection to many animals and birds. Personally I am not a wildlife photographer (lacking the patience and dedication of the masters of this field) and I prefer my photographs to show the wildlife in its environment with a story or narrative element. From the Farne islands where it is possible to get close up to tens of thousands of seals and seabirds to the beaches that are a winter home to so many waders and gulls, the sights and sounds of our wildlife bring joy and hope to my heart and inspiration to my photography.
Peace: Last but not least it is the slow pace and peaceful solitude that can be found in North Northumberland that I appreciate above all. Up on the moors at sunset or walking the beaches early in the morning you can be alone when you want to be. When you want time to think and time to give creative consideration to photographic composition. It is through immersion in your subject and from calm and careful creativity that your best photography is born and Northumberland gives.