As part of our celebration of Britain, we’re featuring some of the wonderfully talented people that do their best to capture its beauty for all to enjoy. Charlie Waite is a photographer we love at Birchall Tea, he is firmly established as one of the world’s leading landscape photographers. Charlie is based in Dorset, which provides stunning scenery to explore right on his doorstep. We recently shared a pot of tea with Charlie to discuss his work and his love for the landscapes of Dorset and Britain.
Q 1. What is it about Dorset that makes you most happy to call it home?
I know of no other county where I can get so completely and utterly lost. I often like to drive through the county without a map and this allows me the freedom to randomly discover.
So much in life is repetition and I so enjoy finding myself in a state of ‘heady unknowing’ I like to remain what I call ‘visually agile’ in the happy expectation of a landscape presenting itself as having the merit for making a photograph
Q 2. When did you start photographing British landscapes? How do they inspire your work?
In 1982, I did my first book ‘the National Trust book of Long Walks’ with the very distinguished writer Adam Nicolson. I then realised that I had no knowledge of the Landscape of the UK and it was an eye opener. It was then that I learned to identify the way the light revealed and defined the landscape and that if I could afford to wait until the right light materialised for me, then I could make the photograph that I hoped to.
This first book was pivotal to my greater understanding of why I needed to photograph the landscape as much as I possibly could.
Q 3. What do you try to capture most in your work?
Over the years, I have found that a landscape photograph is measured by to what extent it is able to convey some of what the photographer felt when they were there. The photographer is making an emotional and creative response to their world around them at that time. The still photograph without sound or movement has to work hard to carry with it a sense of gravitas and meaning. I try to invest as much of myself into the process and see it not just as a photograph but as a production where design, geometry, recession, relationships, balance and of course light are all considered. The photograph has immense power to awaken emotional receptors in the viewer.
It is my wish that my photography can achieve this emotional response.
Q 4. What season do you love the most?
I once said that ‘only a fool would go away in May’ and I can’t deny that generally in southern counties, April 20th to May 20th is the most remarkable time to immerse myself into the landscape.
August is my least popular month as the landscape becomes thick with green where the shapes and appearance of the landscape is hard to detect with my eye.
Q 5. What’s the hardest and best thing about being a landscape photographer?
The hardest and yet paradoxically, the most enjoyable is the creative struggle that prevails when in the midst of the business of making a photograph. To begin with I need to hear that quiet voice that becomes louder and louder as the image begins to take shape. I enjoy intimate landscape cameos as much as the large landscape expanse. The latter often needs compliant and helpful clouds.
These clouds would not be in the image but would yield their accompanying cloud shadows to subdue or highlight elements of the landscape in the way that I would need. Cloud shadow along with oblique light with shadows and highlights help to mitigate the two dimensional nature of landscape photography by introducing a greater sense of depth.
The lighting of a landscape to my satisfaction is one of the most rewarding things about landscape photography.
You can view more of Charlie’s wonderful work on his website here http://www.charliewaite.com