Landscape photography for me is all about the adventure. Its about the peace and beauty of this country, wether it be the whistling winds at the top of a mountain, the crashing waves at a coastline, or birds chirping in a forest, theres something about that moment in nature thats magical, and being the only person there in that moment in time, to witness and capture it, just gives me the most amazing feeling. I have always been a fan of being out in the great outdoors. An escape from day to day life. Being a landscape photographer allows me to take them magical moments in time, and bring them home. Its not just about the end photo, its about memories. When I look back I know that each of my photos have their own story to tell.
What was your path to becoming a Landscape Photographer & What was your first camera?
Things changed when my work life took me to work for BoyleSports and I met the amazing landscape photographer Mr Duffman! Seeing his work convinced me that I wanted to shoot landscapes, it was like the urge was always there, but I never realised it. I have not been a photographer very long, my adventure started on November 2017 when I took my wife and my beagle Bella to the amazing Murder Hole beach in Co. Donegal, a place I had visited a few times as a child. I still remember the day, I had a wonky tripod, a Nikon D5100 and no clue how to use a camera in manual mode. Luckily for me and English photographer called Dean Allan was also there taking photos. I thought I’d introduce myself. He quickly realised I had no clue what I was doing, and gave me some much needed pointers. There was no light that day, but we made the most of it, and for a first ever shoot, I was happy with how things turned out.
What was your favourite Landscape Adventure Story since becoming a Photographer?
When it comes to my favourite landscape stories, there have been many, most have come when I have been out shooting with other people. But my favourite one has to be a day trip in Donegal. I drove up early in the morning to meet the amazing Sean O’Riordan. Not too soon later a bearded man by the name of Jack Downey strolled through the door. We quickly decided “Wesht is Besht” and hopped onto my car leaving Kilmacrennan in the process. We didn’t have a plan per-say, we just knew a few possible locations and that we were heading west.
Location 3 was Glencolumbkille, way out in the South West of Donegal. A very remote village, we were looking for something to eat, but weren’t sure if anyone was even in the village it was that empty. If Paul Rudd and Peter Dinkledge went on a stag here, surely theres somewhere for a sandwich. We found a small place on the outskirts of town before getting a serious feed of chicken goujons, chips and dip, Irelands national dish since 2010. We decided on our final location and went to pull out of the carpark only for a van to fly past with a young driver, who would be described at the very most, aged 10. We met up with Donegal native and head the baller Rory O’Donnell who took us to our final location. The breathtaking Sturrall Ridge. After a good hike, our eyes suddenly caught a glimpse of the ridge and woah!! Just woah! On the way up the hike, I had been telling Jack that Im not very good at heights, so wont be going too close to the edge, he laughed at me and we went on. But when the drop of the cliff came into view, Jack suddenly went blue and sat down. I could’ve laughed and repaid the favour, but instead I took the moral high ground and burst out laughing, pointed my finger of him and of course, videoed him doing so.
What was your worst in-the-field experience as a landscape Photographer?
I had another day out in the Mourne’s with himself TJ Allan. We’d been planning to meet up again for quite a while and we decided the Mourne’s was a good place to do so. The day was perfect, nice light good dramatic skies, everything was lining into place perfectly for a hike and some photography. But mountains being mountains, they make their own weather. We got to Little Binnian Car Park and could see about 20% of the mountain. We decided to head on up the mountains and see what we could salvage, we got some nice photos including a lone tree with the clouds behind, but on that day, my body was aching to get to the top of the mountain and shoot Buzzards Roost at sunset. The conditions didn’t line up, but luckily the craic did as me and TJ shared some amazing funny stories and spent half the day getting Bella back from chasing hares. No day is a bad day, when your out shooting with friends!
Sunrise or Sunset & Why?
Shooting sunrise is amazing! When the elements line up theres nothing quite like standing there, witnessing this stunning landscape in front of our eyes light up and being the only the world at that moment in time to do so. The quietness of it all, and at the end, you get to go home and have some grub and still have a full day in front of you.
But for me theres something about sunsets, not the actual photography itself, but when you’ve been sitting around all day with a plan in your head wondering, will it light, wont it. Then suddenly, you bite the bullet and make a decision to go. The whole way up the road, you can physically see everything falling perfectly into place as you head towards your location. For me theres very little things in this world can give me that rush of adrenaline and excitement like a child coming downstairs for Christmas.
Where is your favourite Location in Ireland to Photograph & Why?
My favourite place in this world is Killarney! I have been to some spectacular locations like my honeymoon in the Maldives, but its always been Killarney. I love everything about it, the fact its a small town, its always buzzing. I love the music, the pubs, Murphys ice cream, the Irish feel around the town and its people like Mark O’Brien, Michael McGillycuddy and Terence Rumley. But its the National Park that stands out for me. For me its got everything a Landscape photographer could ever dream of, and the fact a lot of it still hasn’t been photographed really gives me that inspiration to go back.
What is your favourite photograph, that you’ve taken to date, & Why?
I’ve found that doing this episode has been quite a good reflection on my own work, it’s helped me to look at my own work and regenerate some brilliant days I have had as landscape photographer, something I dont always do. Its hard to pin point our own favourite images as the person who took the image, we have an emotional attachment to the image as well as just seeing the technical aspects of it. My images from Ryan Simpsons workshop of Slieve Binnian, and my Malin Head shot will always be high up my list.
What equipment / Setup are you currently using?
Top Tip for anyone starting out?
Who is your biggest inspiration as a Landscape Photographer.
I have many! I’m a big lover of watching photography vlogs on Youtube. Being from Monaghan, we don’t have the best scenery in the world and its not always as easy to pop out to Donegal, the Mournes or further afield and get a great mountain or cliff shot. So I have to work a little bit harder to keep motivated. Love or hate their work, Ive watched every single video Tom Heaton, Henry Turner and Photography Online have produced. They give me inspiration and that want to be outdoors. I don’t like videos with people in front of the screen talking equipment, I like in the field videos. For more local vlogger’s we have Sean O’Riordan and Steven Hanna who have produced some great videos on our isles.
The are many amazing books out there like Irish Light & Atlantic Light by Peter Cox, Mountains of Ireland by Gareth McCormack, Parklight by Norman McCloskey, The Causeway Coast by Steven Hanna, Louth Rediscovered by Mark Duffy, Capture Lakeland by James Bell, Northwest by Alex Nail (Incredible book) to name a few. https://www.togsandtales.ie/books/
Now I love a vista image, I am all about them vistas. In terms of photographers I follow, I do like to keep the accounts I follow to Ireland and UK photographers, just as its more along the lines of the type of photo I like to take. In terms of UK photographers, I am a big fan of Alex Nail, Simon Atkinson, Stuart McGlennon, Ben Eaton-Williams and Nick Hanson, the work they produce is insane and if you like them mountain vistas like I do, these are the accounts to follow!
Who is your favourite Irish photographer at the moment ?
If I had my arms twisted to limit it to a few (lets face it, Ive done some serious rambling in this episode and I cant name everyone), and the people who has affected my photography the most, my favourite Irish photographers are Sean O’Riordan, Mark Duffy, Mark O’Brien, Steven Wallace and Rory O’Donnell. Its simple, I just loved their work and have been heavily influenced by it.
Where can we find you?
When I joined the Irish landscape photography community, I didn’t really know anybody. I just looked up Instagrams profiles and if I liked your work, I followed it. Over the next year I became more confident and I tried to talk and engage with as many local photographers as I could, and the welcoming I got from everyone cannot be understated! I have met some incredible people along my landscape photography path, some of whom I now call my closest friends and text on a daily basis. I have been in some amazing photography teams such as The Full Irish and Northern Exposure. I have met up with a lot of people and had some incredible days shooting.