WILD PLACE PICTURES - 10 questions with Gareth Jones
Wild Place Pictures is a site dedicated to some of UK and Europe's finest scenery and wild country, whether on the mainland or an offshore island. Below is an interview with the man behind Wild Place Pictures - Gareth Jones. Gareth has always been a keen walker and climber and has travelled extensively in the UK and Europe, mainly searching out the more mountainous and wilder areas. He decided to set up his website about 3 years ago, mainly as a bit of fun for himself and his friends, but also so he could share some photographs with those who are unable to travel or who are looking ahead to places they might like to visit.
1. Why did you decide to set up wildplacepictures.com?
I decided to set up my website about 3 years ago, mainly as a bit of fun for me and my travelling friends but also so I could share some photographs with those who are unable to travel or who are looking ahead to places they might like to visit. I like looking at photographs of interesting places, especially if I haven't been there and am always interested in seeing what places are like. As part of my site I offer the facility to produce high resolution prints of my photos although this is very infrequent service and definitely not the main reason for the site.
2. How did you become involved in travelling to remote islands?
I have walked and rock climbed from my teens and visiting wilder places is a natural extension of that. I really value the landscape and locations we have in the UK, unsung as a lot of its is, and think we have vistas and habitats that rival anything in the world for beauty and interest, especially given the size of the country. There is also something about islands that stirs my soul - the isolation, landscape and the wildlife; also the feel of tradition, heritage and history that is often absent or diluted in part of the mainland exposed to our 21st century progress and development.
3. What is your philosophy when visiting remote islands?
My general philosophy when visiting an island is not to go with preconceptions but to 'go with the flow' and see what happens naturally when I am there. I obviously try and take photographs so as to have an ever present memory & physical record, and have usually researched and tried to understand its past history beforehand. Whilst there, I try and experience or imagine local life and culture from times past and attempt to view and understand the local flora and fauna. The work Andy Strangeway and others do to fight for or protect our rights of access to these wonderful places is very important, although of course this must be balanced with the care we take when visiting. The old adage of take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints is as apt as ever!
4. What equipment do you take with you on your journeys?
This of course depends on the circumstances of the trip and what home comforts are feasible, if any! It is important to be self contained and well equipped if visiting uninhabited islands, looking ahead to possible benightings and problems caused by weather and travel difficulties. It goes without saying that a camera and binoculars are vital, and I usually take a spare camera just in case it's needed. My main camera is an ageing digital Konica Minolta A200 that will hopefully be relaced this summer.
5. Where is the remotest place that you have photographed?
Probably the Flannan Islands, Foula, Fair Isle, the St Kilda archipelago and Mingulay south of Barra are the most remote Scottish islands I've photographed to date. Planned targets for 2011 include north Rona, Sulasgeir, Barra Head, Shiants and the Monarchs. Once the islands easily accessible by regular ferry and day boat trips have been 'bagged' it starts to get difficult and you need lots of time and money to organise one-off trips to remote places. My future dream is to be able to live for a few months on each of the Outer Hebrides, Shetlands and Orkney, so as to have the time and weather windows to catch the rare opportunities to get out to the really remote islands - roll on the Lottery win!
6. Where would you like to visit that you haven't already been to?
Some of my main targets are mentioned in question 5 above, but I would also like to spend time on Boreray (St Kilda) as I believe it is the ultimate UK island for isolation, difficulty of access and dramatic scenery. I also look forward to spending time on Papa Stour and Out Skerries in Shetland to see how their remote island communities function and thrive on the edge of our busy world. And finally, Rockall is an ambition someday, although I will leave Andy to sleep on it - I would be quite happy for just a fleeting visit!
7.What are your favourite islands - Scottish and otherwise?
Of those places I have visited to date, I guess my favourite medium sized islands across the UK are Bardsey (Wales), Lundy (England) and Mingulay (Scotland) although of course Hirta on St Kilda is a fab place too. In Ireland, Skellig Michael is a must. You don't have to go too far off the beaten track to find beautiful islands though - my inner Hebrides favourite has to be Islay. it has everything you want in an island and whisky distilleries too!
8. Do you only take photographs, or do you take video as well?
Whilst I mainly concentrate on photographs I also take some short videos whenever possible and a selection are on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/user/WildPlacePictures
9. What are your favourite photographs on wildplacepictures.com?
To answer this you must look at my site - I have picked out my ten current favourites on a seperate webpage, although most are not of islands or Scotland. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder really, and different photographic images generate feelings and pleasures in viewers. Please let me know if you like a particular image and I would love to know why - I may email you a free high resolution version in return!
10. What is your vision for wildplacepictures.com in the next 5-10 years?
As I have said earlier, the site is mainly a fun vehicle for me to share my photographs (and those of some friends who have allowed me to show theirs). It is not intended to be a commercial site as there are plenty of those out on the internet. Over the next ten years I hope I can continue to build up a library of interesting images from the UK and Europe, that all can view and share, and if I can bring some pleasure or appreciation from a viewer here and there then I will be very satisfied, job done!