You initially left school and began a career in theatre and acting. What prompted you to change from this into photography and more specifically, landscape photography?
I spent much time observing the stage lighting and found that it was so effective when done well in bringing a play to life.
I also enjoyed photographing my fellow actors. Then I met my wife Jessica Benton who was working on hugely popular series in the 70’s and 80’s called the Onedin Line for the BBC. I used to go and watch her filming in Exeter and Dartmouth and found it boring and would set off to explore the countryside and with my camera started responded to trees and valleys and rivers.
What inspires you?
The natural world and the challenge to move people with a landscape photograph. The hope is that my photography will awaken something in the viewer and effect them. Landscape images cut across all political and national boundaries, they transcend the constraints of language and culture.
What was the strangest thing you have ever had to shoot? Why?
When I thought that I would have to do photo journalism to make money, for my first job, I was asked to photograph a politician who might have been coming out of a building in central London. If I was able to get a picture of him, it would incriminate him. It was the most horrible thing I could imagine and from that moment on, I knew that I would never be a paparazzi.
Out of all the images that you have ever taken, is there one that you think of as your favourite?
There was one made in Lake Titicaca where I was convinced there was some divine intervention at work.
You have shot stunning landscapes from so many parts of the world. Is there one place that you would love to visit and shoot images of?
Yes, I would like to go back to France and just work in some of the most rural parts that many people never visit. I would love to be commissioned to do another book on ‘Rural France’
For all our readers who would love to follow in your illustrious footsteps, what advice would you give them?
To specialise and at the same time be realistic that you’re your style of photography may not earn sufficient funds. Create an impressive portfolio of images and a simple yet stylish web site and understand lighting in all its different forms. Think carefully about composition and colour.
Throughout your extremely successful career you have remained incredibly loyal to landscapes. Have you ever been tempted to experiment with new genres?
Yes, I continue to photograph actors but I am always drawn back to the landscape. I have been working a great deal with the compact camera of late and enjoy the immediacy of it, but it is almost always the landscape that hauls me back.
The Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards is such an exciting event, for both amateur photographers and professionals and it is an incredible medium for emerging talent. What made you decide to launch such a competition?
I have always been evangelical about landscape photography and am convinced that the camera acts both as a wonderfully creative tool and also a channel through which, the landscape photographer can fully engage with their surroundings.
How does it feel being a judge? Do you enjoy it?
Judging other peoples photography can be both uplifting and agonising and it is a very leveling experience. The UK has much breathtakingly beautiful landscape and some great urban landscape too and we have some highly talented photographers who never fail to impress me with their dedication and tenacity to get the image they want. I am so glad that we have a good many judges to ensure that appraisal is balanced and fair.
What is your favourite piece of equipment? What do feel about digital photography and retouching an image?
My favourite piece of equipment is probably a small black cardboard rectangle with a rectangular aperture cut within it. I use it to determine whether there is an image to be made or not.
Digital photography is wonderful and so long as retouching and post production manipulation is done with integrity and skill, then it is fine with me.