Bring on the mavericks.

When I was young I wanted to be Clint Eastwood. I don’t just mean I liked him and his seemingly never-ending stream of heroic roles. No, I wanted to be him. I’ve wanted to be a few people during my 53 years on this crazy ball of rock. Archie Gemmill, Francis Rossi and one of the Thunderbird pilots – I can’t remember which one. Even in my early thirties when I got into photography, there were a few people I wanted to be – who wouldn’t want to be Vincent Munier? Good looking, charismatic and sickeningly talented. Je ne suis pas digne.

Continue reading “Bring on the mavericks.”

The Eagle’s Way: Jim Crumley

Those of you who have endured my rants over the years will know that I just don’t get it. Life that is. I don’t get Christmas; I don’t get marriage; I certainly don’t get funerals. I don’t get cars; I don’t get jewellery; I don’t get food, especially pretentious food. The list goes on. I quite like tattoos though. And that frizzy hair that young women promoting discount sofas tend to have. Very nice. Overall however, I struggle to make sense of the world and its human inhabitants. Continue reading “The Eagle’s Way: Jim Crumley”

2020VISION: end of Chapter 1…almost

Since late 2009 I’ve been working almost exclusively on a major project called 2020VISION. Regular readers will be familiar with my ‘2020’ exploits and musings. Together with many of the UK’s most creative nature photographers (and then there’s me) I’ve been up and down the country gathering images that tell the story of the repair and reconnection of some of the UK’s ecosystems and the services they provide to us all – clean water, fresh air, productive soils to name a few.

I’ve got to say that the last two years have been a real cocktail of emotions and a roller coaster of fortunes.  The 2020VISION message is very much of the moment but has coincided with huge cuts in public and NGO spending, forcing the small team of us that manage the project into some very tight corners. Yesterday however, saw the first major milestone completed – the 2020VISION flagship book.

I find working on a book a tortuous and time-consuming process where attention to detail is paramount. Factor in the number of fingers in the 2020VISION pie – photographers, conservation bodies, scientists, publishers, government agencies – and the pressure to ‘get it right’ is significant. So did we get it right?  Well for someone normally very critical, I think we did indeed get it right and the 2020VISION book is befitting of the project overall. Of course the proof is in the pudding and it will be the readership, which ultimately determines the book’s success.

I’m now working on the 2020VISION outdoor exhibition, which launches in July in Edinburgh, after which I’m looking forward to having a bit more time to get back to basics. In the meantime, here’s a date for your diary: August 1st – the publishing date for the 2020VISION book. It will very shortly be available for pre-order in our store and on this one occasion, I’m going to swallow my pride and get down on my knees to beg you to buy it. There’s blood, sweat and many many tears (did I mention many tears?) gone into this book and for that reason alone it should be on your bookshelf!

Wildlife Photographer: Chris Gomersall

I have to be honest when colleague Chris Gomersall told me he was doing a book on…wait for it…wildlife photography, my eyes glazed over.  How many more books do we need on shutter speed, aperture settings and ISO ratings? So in truth when a copy landed on my doormat the other day, I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to rip it open. But open it I did and I’ve got to say that once I started reading, I couldn’t stop; even Coronation St came and went and I was still absorbed.

Wildlife Photographer is not a techie manual, in fact Chris barely makes mention of camera gear and settings (and well done for that I say). This is an educated, insightful exploration of the concept of wildlife photography and is very much aimed at the thinking photographer. From an intelligent (and experienced) viewpoint, Chris examines themed creativity, conservation story-telling, multimedia and lots more besides. Without apology, he  addresses the thorny issue of digital manipulation and captive subjects – something most others conveniently shy away from. The images are great – that goes without saying – but what impressed me most was Chris’ articulate writing, which is concise, balanced and perceptive.

I’m sure Chis wouldn’t mind me saying that he’s been around a while and in many ways, comes from what is commonly referred to as the ‘old school’. In this book it is evident that Chris’ philosophy is anything but old school and the reader is treated to quite a rare marriage: a lifetime of experience with a contemporary perspective – and a firm grip on reality thrown in to boot.

If this book had indeed turned out to be another ‘how to’ manual, I’d probably be struggling to offer much in way of recommendation. It isn’t that and for anyone who cares about their photography and where this funny old business is heading, I’d offer only one piece of advice: Buy this book. It captures the essence of wildlife photography in 2012 better than anything I’ve read before.

CALEDONIA on way…finally.

It’s been a bit of a haul this one! From an idea that started way back when, we’ve had false starts, funding letdowns and above all, just lots of other time-consuming things going on. But we’re there now and it’s shaping up to be a really nice book (and we’re planning a few side products too!).

Written by colleague Niall Benvie and illustrated by yours truly, CALEDONIA is an unashamed emotional plea for a fresh and more ambitious outlook towards forest restoration. That doesn’t mean that Scotland should be covered in trees tomorrow; it simply means we should perhaps take a renewed look at what the landscape can offer us against a backdrop of increasing biological uncertainty.

CALEDONIA will retail at £20 and will be available only from the NORTHSHOTS website (from June 23rd). Advance orders are being taken now (just e-mail Amanda). Corporate customers (ordering a minimum of 10 copies) can buy the book for just £12-95 per copy. Branded books (with your logo on front cover) are available at the same price (min. order 100 units) but must be ordered before April 30 2011.

To get a feel for what CALEDONIA will look like, download our promo-flyer here.