The beauty of Dorset’s landscapes inspired the photographer Daniel Wretham, who has spent the last few years capturing the best scenery of this county…
Under the quote, “Chase light, not likes,” the landscape photographer Daniel Wretham pursue the best views in Bournemouth and the areas around. The artist, who fell in love with the Dorset coastline and the countryside, chats with us about his passion for this profession, which is, first of all, an enjoyment.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY?
Originally I was born in Colchester in Essex. I moved to Dorset when I was 13, when my father’s job brought us down here, and I instantly fell in love with it. It was so different from Essex, far more countryside and lots of scenic coastline.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST CONTACT WITH A CAMERA?
Originally I purchased my first camera in my twenties, which was a film camera. I mainly shot wildlife and the occasional sunset with it, as I was very much a newbie and just shot things that interested me. But this fuelled my passion for it, despite film shooting being a lot more tricky to master than digital.
WHEN DID YOU REALISE THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A PHOTOGRAPHER?
I would say I made a firm commitment to it around 14 years ago. I was starting to walk the coastline much more and I really wanted to record these places and the fabulous conditions I would see while out on my walks. At this point, I had made the switch to digital cameras, which were far more forgiving than film cameras — they allowed me to make a few mistakes without punishing me in the same way that a film camera did.
IS IT AN EASY JOB TO MAKE A LIVING FROM?
It takes a great level of commitment to do this, and you have to have a very thick skin, as more often than not conditions don’t go your way and you come home with nothing. It can be very frustrating when you are doing really early starts — like 2am constantly — and it doesn’t go your way. You need a lot of resilience to keep going back out. Then, of course, you get periods of time like winter where the ideal conditions don’t come along for weeks, and you can be stuck inside doing nothing. But as with all things in life, you have to take the rough with the smooth and make hay while the sun shines.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOUR LOVE OF WHAT YOU DO?
I wasn’t inspired by a specific person — it was more the light and the landscapes that really fuelled my passion. While there any many fantastic photographers out there whose work I admire, I try not to look too much at others — simply because I don’t want to be influenced by anyone else’s style. I think landscape photography is a very personal thing and subjective to the individual, so I try and just shoot what makes me happy and for my own enjoyment. This, of course, changes when you get a commission, as you have a brief for it, which might not suit your own personal tastes, but that’s the job.
THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF PHOTOGRAPHY… WHAT LED YOU TO SPECIALISE IN LANDSCAPES?
Landscapes for me are the most creative and varied aspects of photography. The same scene never looks alike as conditions constantly change and can give hugely varied results. The weather can be very dramatic and that’s half of the fun for me. Chasing light and weather is thrilling, as are sunsets and sunrises, and you never quite know which way it will go. The thrill of the chase is so exciting — it just makes it the most interesting for me.
I do other forms of photography for work such as product and portrait photography, but neither are as exciting as landscapes in my opinion.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITES FROM ALL THE PHOTOS YOU HAVE TAKEN?
The next one. Every picture that makes it into a gallery has its place in my heart and I have many favourites. But the next one you take is always going to be the best (we hope).
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PICTURES ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND INFLUENCERS WHO FEEL LIKE PHOTOGRAPHERS?
I hate the term, “influencer”. I find it a very much self-issued title, and one that shows extreme arrogance, more often than not given by themselves with very little reasoning behind it.
Social media, while having some benefits, has been a cancer in photography in my opinion, and people have lost sight of the real reasons for doing it; instead focusing on chasing likes and follows, which are all meaningless vanity boosters. The real reason for doing it is simply to enjoy it and that is the reward, not chasing after intangible things and trying to feed an obsession of “likes equal talent”. It rarely does.
Most of the really talented photographers I know don’t have large followings, simply because they don’t covet it. They don’t need it or chase it because their work speaks for itself and they choose to remain in the shadows.
IS THERE A QUOTE OR PHILOSOPHY THAT YOU LIVE BY?
Chase light, not likes.
WHAT IS THE DREAM OR THE END GOAL?
To simply enjoy my photography and hopefully get decent images. I don’t worry about being published or anything, although have been very fortunate in the past to have been. My goal has and will always be to enjoy it.
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