Guest Post – James Grant Photography

A Kinder Wonderland

Guest post time again, folks! 
From time to time, I get truly humbled by complements to the wonderful scenes I capture on video featuring the British landscape (or at least the Peak District nowadays). It’s something that comes easy to me – yet at the same time is a real challenge. Being in the right place at the right time while ‘chasing the light’ – literally – but made easy from spending nights out under the stars upon a hill somewhere.

All us backpackers see these sights, so to a degree it’s no hardship really.

I take great joy in every aspect from my time out in the countryside, even though of late it’s been a royal pain in the rear having to contend with overcast skies, rain, snow, wind and fog. Even so, I still feel a relative amateur in all of this and am constantly learning new techniques and so on.
Which leads me onto this guest post – a young lad from my neck of the woods who’s keen on capturing the landscape via the means of a DSLR. Gives a different perspective to my usual ramble and his Peak District imagery is some of the best I’ve ever seen…..
Hello to you all,
First off many thanks for reading through this guest post, it is much appreciated. I am going to go through with you firstly how I got into photography and how I have got to where I am to help budding photographers and then finally will tell you what photography is to me.
I’d like to introduce myself and I guess some of you may have not heard of me. My name is James Grant and I reside in a small village in North East Derbyshire, I’m the grand age of 22. The reason I am here now, writing this blog is because 2 and a bit years ago I took up this very expensive hobby called photography.
The Last Push
Having always lived within a stones throw of Matlock and its surrounding areas, from being a young lad I have always had an exposure to the outdoors with my parents taking me out on little trips here and there. There has always been something about the landscape that has fascinated me, this great expanse of open land and solitude with a diversity of hills, rivers, and waterfalls – something you don’t see in your every day surrounding areas (unless your very lucky!).
So was it always inevitable I became a photographer? The truthful answer from me is, well no. Skipping forward a few years, if you asked me at the age of 18 if I would be a serious landscape photographer the answer would have been no. I didn’t even own a camera at this point and never had. So what started this hobby, this craze, this infatuation for me? Well, one day, in September 2008 I went for my first serious walk, with a couple of friends, with no experience and admittedly a lot of naivety looking back on it and went to tackle Kinder Scout, Derbyshires highest ground. This is where I can pin point my revelation, I knew there and then I needed a camera to record these fantastic places we are lucky enough to be able to commute to within a hour. I wanted to be able record my steps in the outdoors to save the memories of the times I have had to look back on when I am retired and possibly not able to get out any more. A week later I bought my first ever camera and DSLR.

Mam Tor inversion
I spent the next year just snapping away, taking photos at my leisure and for the fun of it while out walking – recording every summit I had visited at the same time. This was certainly a different world back then to me. In May 2009, I was very lucky to have won Trail Magazines “Action Photo Competition” judged by ace rock climber Leo Houlding, with my photo “The Last Push” . This photo was a chance photo, not planned or contrived and I was simply trying to get some good shots of my friend climbing but when I saw the competition in the magazine I thought i’d try my luck.

The prize of this was a photography workshop holiday which I took in October 2009 with leading landscape photographer Nick Jenkins and focused on North Wales and Snowdonia. This is when things got serious for me and I hit that pivotal moment. I did not at this point think I was producing good photographs and was quite happy just snapping away still. However at the end of the week I was being approached by people in the hotel saying they had heard great things about me and then Nick sat me down at the end of the week and basically said I had to make a go of it. Without this push I really do not think I would be where I am now so I owe hell of a lot to Nick for seeing potential.

Buachaille Etive Mor
Since October 2009 I have spent a year building a portfolio of images mainly around the Peak District but do have quite a few from around the Lakes, Snowdonia and Scotland. I have gone in leaps and bounds in my skills I believe and feel I am now really getting somewhere, although still sadly not professional yet. In July 2010 I won the Visit Peak District and Buxton Festival photography competition and also I got photo of the week with Lloyd’s weather competition. Since then I became an official Visit Peak District Photography Partner, I have had my work published twice with Outdoor Photography, I have been in Derbyshire Life, a few photos have appeared in the Visit Peak District 2011 Brochure and also had articles in numerous Peak District and Derbyshire Newspapers. In all a very busy year and a bit and hopefully even more in 2011.

I feel extremely lucky to have achieved all this so quick and at such a young age. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have expected it and I know there’s still a long way to go and I have a lot of improvement to make, however I am fortunate enough that I have plenty of years ahead of me! I try not to think of myself as talented or that I have been given a gift when I have achieved so much so far without having to drill techniques into myself. I just like to think I am able to convey something that means a lot to me into an image for everyone to look at.

So, the next subject, what is photography to me?

Are you looking at me?
Photography for me, is capturing one brief moment in time, in one place that can never be replicated again. I want a picture to be able to tell a story. I want an emotional connection. To me, these make the very best pictures and it is what I strive to achieve even I do not sometimes. I feel my best and strongest images are all of moments that I couldn’t have planned for the life of me and are just unique.

You can have the best compositional skills, the best light and the best setting but if you can’t make it feel special then it probably isn’t. Maybe this is a view I have taken because of my age and my lack of experience. As said above, I feel very fortunate to have got to when I started with no knowledge, but this is what I want to hammer in to every budding photographer out there, an image that isn’t technically correct but has a wow factor about it is way better than a pin sharp, correctly exposed shot that is drab and boring because the photographer spent so much time trying to achieve this and forgot to look at the bigger picture. My two big competition winners were both won with an entry level DSLR and no tripod or filters and even one with a kit lens, not bad eh? Of course, now days I’m a little more disciplined about my photography and have all the gear but that comes with time and I do now try and get it technically right also as well as special.

Higger Tor sunrise
Also, I think its very important to specialise and have even come to realise lately that sticking to an area close to your home is also very important and as a result I am focusing on the Peak District more than ever. Once you get an intimate relationship with a place I think you can show this in your pictures.

So, what is there for me in 2011?

Well I have a couple of exhibitions lined up which are to be 100% confirmed with dates so more on that another time. I have started to get my greetings cards out in the Peak District and I am trying to get as much recognition as possible. I am also (thanks very much to Terry) going to be giving my hand a go at wild camping. I stumbled across Terry last year when looking into it, and he along with other outdoors bloggers has inspired me. I need to go out and do this to try and excel myself and capture scenes many will not have. Roll on March for this!

You can visit my website for my full portfolio and purchase prints, greetings cards and canvas. Please feel free to get in touch with me for anything, just general questions and advice or even if you are interested in working with me on something.

Thank you for taking the time to read the long essay,



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Daniel says:

    Looking forwards to seeing some more of your fantastic images this year James, and hope now you have expressed an interest in wild camping to spend some time on and around the summits 🙂

    Dan Milton


  2. My mate Granty won't be very happy that the link below the post is to a different photographer in Teeside!!

    Enjoying the blog Terry


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