A look back at 2018

I can’t believe it’s that time of year already, but here is a quick look back over 2018. This has been a strange year for me, a year where despite going from being a part-time photographer to a full-time one and thus having a lot more time, I’ve constantly felt like I’m struggling to keep up… It wasn’t until I started writing this that I realised how busy a year it has been!

Workshops have kept me busy all year, both here in the UK, where as well as increasing my range of workshops around East Anglia, I also ran my first workshops for the National Trust and the Forestry Commission but also abroad. Having run a workshop for them as a last-minute stand in last year, Tatra Photography booked me to tutor several more workshops for them this year and I have been incredibly fortunate to travel to and photograph some amazing places around the world with them including Canada, Slovenia, Slovakia, Portugal and Iceland (twice) but what makes the job so enjoyable is all the other photographers you meet and friends you make on these trips.

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Last light on Praia da Adraga, Portugal
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Blue hour at Lake Bled, Slovenia
Strbske Pleso
Church of Saints Primus and Felician - Jamnik, Slovenia

It’s hard to pick a favourite place but one of the highlights of the year for me was undoubtedly the workshop in the Canadian Rockies, where the landscape is simply breathtakingly beautiful and on a scale that is hard to believe. The trip was not without it’s challenges though. As the two images below illustrate, unsettled weather saw the conditions change over the course of a few days from (a little bit too) sunny and hazy to (far too much) cloud and (a surprising amount of) snow but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the group and the week was a blast.

Moraine Lake on a sunny evening in September

Moraine Lake on a sunny evening in September

Moraine Lake on a much colder dawn a week later

Moraine Lake on a much colder dawn a week later

Unexpected weather was largely the theme of the year at home as well as away. Snow in any quantity is relatively rare in East Anglia - headlines predicting ‘the harshest winter in decades’ pop up every year, but the forecasted wintry conditions rarely materialise, certainly not in this part of the country. In early spring however, on my very first day as a full-time professional photographer, the much heralded Beast from the east brought snow to East Anglia… lots of it. I spent a memorable day along the coast, ticking shots off my ‘if it ever snows’ list and marvelling at how the winds howling off the North Sea were as brutal as those I’d experienced in Iceland a couple of months early. Unfortunately overnight those high winds spoiled my fun rather prematurely and after that one trip out with the camera, the snow was blown in huge drifts across the tiny roads into our village and I spent the next few days effectively cut off. Snow transforms the landscape though and I consoled myself by wandering the local fields in search of minimal black and white images. Pretty as it was, the snow meant that in my first week I had to cancel a workshop in Norfolk… a few months later I almost had to cancel one in the same area because of the heat! With temperatures forecast to hit 32° on the Norfolk Broads, I decided to switch the workshop to the nearby coast where we would hopefully benefit from a sea breeze, it worked, a little too well in fact and by sunset we found ourselves running for the car as thunder and lightning storms blew rapidly towards us!

Southwold in the snow - March

Southwold in the snow - March

Local snow covered fields, Creeting St Peter - March

Local snow covered fields, Creeting St Peter - March

Lightning at Happisburgh - July

Lightning at Happisburgh - July

Aside from the workshops much of my time in 2018 has been spent working on my first book Photographing East Anglia, a Fotovue guidebook to the area for photographers. This will probably sound a little strange but up until recently the book had felt like just any another project, but such a big one that I never really thought about actually finishing it. Two years, hundreds of photos and over 72,000 words later, it is indeed finished but it still wasn’t until I saw the cover design (still under wraps, sorry!) that the realism that I had written a book dawned on me. It is currently in the design stages of production and I’m hoping to bring you an exciting update soon.

It seems books are like buses because before I’d finished my first one, I was commissioned to produce a second. This one, Essex in Photographs due for publication in early 2020 is exactly what you’d expect from the title. I’ve started work on it and have been enjoying discovering more of my home county particularly the coast.

Low tide at Southend, Essex

Low tide at Southend, Essex

Through most of the year I have been working on commissions for the National Trust. This was my fourth year working for them and they continue to give me interesting projects and challenges photographing they many beautiful properties around the region… trying to capture Blickling Hall & Anglesey Abbey in the height of the hot, dry, hazy summer wasn’t the easiest but the gardeners did an amazing job there and the gardens still looked lush and colourful. Photographing the Repton Revealed light installation after dark at Sheringham Park was an interesting challenge too. I loved photographing Dunstable Downs in the spring, it makes such a change in East Anglia to have some height to work with… but the high point for me this year though was catching sight and a few snaps of a curious otter at Oxburgh Hall!

Blickling Hall, Norfolk in summer

Blickling Hall, Norfolk in summer

Repton Revealed  at Sheringham Hall, Norfolk

Repton Revealed at Sheringham Hall, Norfolk

An otter at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk

An otter at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk

Spring at Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire

Spring at Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire

Some time ago I was contacted by Paul Sanders from the Togcast, a photography podcast to ask if I’d like to be interviewed for the show. Paul travels more than I do and for some months we had been trying to pin down a date that we were both available and in the same country. Finally we met in October in Aldeburgh and recorded a chat/interview for the podcast… definitely the most nerve wracking moment of the year! Paul made it all very easy though and once we’d got started it actually flew by in a bit of a blur, so much so that until I heard the finished edit I couldn’t remember a thing that we’d talked about.

I’ve managed to find time to put on two solo exhibitions this year and would like to thank everyone who came along to either of these. The first The Edge of Suffolk was a collection of Suffolk coastal prints in August as part of Ferry Fest, an arts festival held at Felixstowe Ferry. The second, Meanderings, is a collection of prints highlighting the regions peaceful rivers and is still on at The Boathouse Gallery in the National Trust cafe in Flatford. I was also involved in a third exhibition, having had three images commended in the Landscape Photographer of the year competition those are being exhibited on the concourse at Waterloo Station, London until February. On the subject of competitions, apart from completely missing the deadline for two of the big ones, it hasn’t been a bad year with a category win in the Suffolk Wildlife Trust competition and overall winner of the ‘Your Vision’ landscape photography competition for subscribers to F11 magazine.

Three images commended in this year’s Landscape Photographer of the year competition

Three images commended in this year’s Landscape Photographer of the year competition

Happisburgh, Norfolk
Is there anybody out there?

I think that’s everything… I’d like to just end by thanking everyone for their support in 2018, whether it be a like on Facebook, coming along to one of my camera club talks or booking a workshop, it really is appreciated and I’ve enjoyed meeting every one of you.

So whats the plan for 2019? I’m looking forward to the launch of Photographing East Anglia early in the year and completing my Essex book in autumn. I have exciting new workshops booked with Tatra Photography, including trips to Patagonia and Madeira. I’ll also be running new workshops for the Royal Photographic Society and the National Trust… maybe I’ll see you on one of them.

Happy New Year!