At Birchall Tea we love landscape photography, there’s a symmetry between the calming nature of tea and the serene feeling of gazing at a beautiful view. As part of our celebration of North Yorkshire and the Dales, we’re featuring some of the wonderfully talented people that make it so special and do their best to capture its beauty for all to enjoy. Lizzie Shepherd is a professional photographer who has a rich passion for the Yorkshire dales. We recently shared a pot of Birchall tea with Lizzie to discuss her work and showcase her wonderful images.
What is it about Yorkshire that makes you happy to call it home?
I think, as much as anything, because it seems to have pretty much everything going for it. Truly beautiful scenery, with a great mix of pastoral and rugged. Classically picturesque cities and villages but also gritty, urban towns as a complete contrast. People are friendly, with a great sense of humour. There’s plenty of cultural interest, great pubs, a fabulous network of footpaths, nature reserves, wild places… shall I go on?
When did you start photographing the Yorkshire Dales and how does it inspire your work?
I’ve been living in Yorkshire for over 16 years now but, perhaps due to other commitments, my earlier visits to the Dales were more about walking than photographing. Now I love nothing more than combining both. My earliest images from the Dales (snaps aside) would be from around 10 years ago and it’s interesting to see how my focus has changed during this time.
Over the last 5 years or so, I’ve tried to teach myself to see things very differently and the work I produce certainly reflects that. I think the most exciting thing is I can return to a place I visited some years ago and I now see it in an entirely different light.
Although I naturally gravitate towards wilder scenery, I love the combination of manmade and natural elements in the Dales. The dry stone walls and barns, in particular, make such fascinating focal points and can add amazingly intricate patterns to the overall landscape. We have some great hills and a large number of beautiful waterfalls here, although I tend to think of our incredible stretches of limestone pavement and scars as the most extraordinary features of the Dales. Yet even they show the influence of man, with the Victorians having been partial to the odd bit of limestone paving in their gardens! The rivers, tarns and reservoirs are also rich with photographic potential.
What do you try to capture most in your work?
Most of all I try to capture the spirit of a place, in all its moods. I really want to try and evoke the feelings and memories of being there and to try and show why I feel a place is special, important or just relevant. As a professional photographer, there will of course be times when I have a need to capture something specific for a client.
Also I’m currently co-writing a Fotovue photography guide book on the Yorkshire Dales, so I’m also thinking about what people who buy the book may want to know and see. It’s a wonderful opportunity to show people the depth and breadth of the Yorkshire Dales landscape, in its widest sense. It’s also a great excuse to keep exploring, discovering and rediscovering a very special part of the UK.
What season do you love the most?
I love the fact that we do have four seasons here in the UK, even if they have been somewhat muddled over the last few years. Each season holds something special for me and, unlike many landscape photographers, I even enjoy summer! From a purely photographic perspective, I’d probably say Autumn – because I love the range of colours to be enjoyed, the gradual revelation of the structure of trees as the leaves fall, and the potential for wonderfully moody, misty weather. However, looking at it from a broader perspective, then I’d have to choose Spring. The promise of longer days, the beginnings of new life, blossom on the trees, the thrill of seeing the first swallow… It’s the most optimistic time of year in so many ways.
Lizzie is a full time professional photographer, specialising in landscape, nature and travel. She runs workshops, writes and gives talks on photography. To find out more visit www.lizzieshepherd.com