We chat to local artist Rich Clark who is currently exhibiting his work at the Javabean café in Tunbridge Wells about his love of photography and why the countryside and coastline inspire him
How did you get started in photography?
It had always been a hobby but the costs of working with film were prohibitive. When digital came along, I had just taken voluntary redundancy from my business development job in London which allowed me more time to get out and shoot. I sold a few images online and a friend asked me to cover their wedding. One job led to another and I was suddenly considering it as a career.
Had you always wanted to be one from a very young age?
In my teens I idolised some of the larger than life music scene photographers and I can certainly remember thinking I could be the next big thing in surf photography. My parents however had other ideas. . .
What is it about photography that you enjoy most?
I believe it is the ability to control time, to freeze a moment that will never be repeated. Photography satisfies my need to create and it allows me a means to easily share my enjoyment of the outdoors.
What would you say is your principal source of inspiration?
I grew up living close to the sea so I loved to surf and go to the beach. The outdoors have always been my ‘go to’ place to unwind. My images very much reﬂ ect my emotions within the landscape. I love to capture the colour, energy and textures of the landscape. When I work within it I tend to forget time, which in an increasingly hectic world is no bad thing. The landscape also changes with time, with light and throughout the seasons providing a constant source of inspiration.
What do you find most alluring about the local countryside?
We are blessed with some truly beautiful landscapes. With Ashdown Forest on our doorstep, the Downs just a short drive away and the coast within easy reach we enjoy great variety here in the South East. I often travelled further aﬁ eld for the spectacular vistas, looking for rugged coastlines but I have come to appreciate what we have closer to home. I continue to see new locations, new areas of interest all the time.
Do you have any favourite places to photograph?
I’ve recently spent a lot of time creating images at Eridge Rocks, Harrison’s Rocks and around the fringes of Ashdown Forest. I’ve travelled widely within the UK and Cornwall is somewhere that’s always close to my heart. Over recent years I’ve loved exploring the Isles of Harris, Lewis and the Uists in the Outer Hebrides. My wife Ailsa hails from Pitlochry in the Scottish Highlands and this has given me greater opportunity to explore Scotland. I try hard to find something in every landscape, be it natural, made, the wider vistas or the details at my feet. On the South Coast I love Birling Gap, Cuckmere Haven, Dungeness and the Pett Levels.
Who would you cite as your favourite photographers?
I first loved the monochrome work of American landscape photographer Ansel Adams and the gritty rock and roll portraits of Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn. I admire the bold simplicity of Rothko’s work and Turner’s images of the sea always excite me. Modern British landscape photographers such as Charlie Waite, Joe Cornish and David Ward provide continual inspiration.
What advice would you give to any budding photographers out there?
With the rapid onset of digital technology the industry has become very competitive over recent years. Those interested in making a career out of photography really need to find a niche that they can excel in. You have to work hard, create high-class images and know how to market them effectively.
Have you got any other exhibitions or exciting projects coming up?
I’ve been asked to exhibit in Crowborough later this year at the Community Centre. I’m currently seeking funding to complete a project based in Newlyn, Cornwall and I want to get back to the Hebrides to document the coastal communities in the islands. I’m always looking for local venues to exhibit in.
Rich Clark’s Landscape and Coastal exhibition is on at Javabean until April 14. For more information on his work visit www.richclarkimages.co.uk