Can I commission you?
Yes you can. I've usually got projects ongoing and I travel for a good part of each year, but there's often space for assignments, especially if the story fits with the ongoing themes: Polar regions, wild places and science. You can see the results of commissioned work here.
How do I buy limited edition prints
I sell directly to buyers, though there are galleries I work with if you would prefer to buy through a gallery. I oversee the entire printing process from tests and proofs right through to the final piece. Printing is usually done in London and the final piece is shipped along with a certificate of authenticity, usually within 14 days, but dependent on workload. For the ice work the edition is of 20, on a paper stock that is 20 x 24 inches. Work is available framed or unframed. Please e-mail me for more information about prints, to see samples and/or to go ahead with an order. Check this page to see how good the work can look on the walls.
How do I obtain a license to use your images for publication?
I licence images directly, so just call with your requirements. When I'm 'home' you can usually deal with me directly, if in the field for a long period I will have an assistant responding to mails and calls, who would be in close contact with me (relative to the connection!). Between us we can make sure that images and stories are delivered to meet your deadline, by FTP/ Dropbox.
Do you shoot video?
Yes I've shot and edited motion/ video for many years. I was trained by the BBC in camera operation early on in my career and continued to shoot video for NGOs alongside photography assignments. Most recently I shot footage, recorded sound and made timelapse in the ice, for a film to accompany my recent story in National Geographic Magazine about Arctic sea ice research. the film recently received an award. I make short films each year in Antarctica for expedition tour company Hurtigruten.
Can I buy a book of your work?
Yes, coming soon! I'm working on a book of Arctic pictures, it's long overdue.
It looks cold, where you work. What's it like out there, how do you keep warm?
To get a feeling of what it's like out in the field you can have a look at this gallery. I use a lot of wool, a lot of layering and some of the technical clothing I use is incredible. That said, when I shot the Lance story temperatures fell to -38 degrees C, at that point cables started to snap and the whole team were experiencing frost nips to the face - we cancelled field work on those days.
What are your photographic influences?
I looked at a lot of photography books. His Photographs and Notes by W Eugene Smith, Bruce Davidson's books (Central Park remains a favourite), Larry Towell's work, particularly the Mennonites. Eugene Richards’ early self published book 50 hours got to me, his American's We left an impression too. Chris Killip’s In Flagrante. Alex Webb and William Albert Allard for different perspectives on colour work. I don’t make a lot of portraits but I looked at Richard Avedon a lot and I was drawn to Anton Corbijn for his ideas and commentary. My esteemed colleagues who have shot stories for National Geographic Magazine and gather around the banner of The Photo Society, it's well worth visiting that collection of amazing photographers! I'll post a list of photography books and photographers here one day.
What's influenced you outside of photography?
I grew up with novels defined by their landscapes, writers like Annie Proulx, Cormac McCarthy (Border Trilogy) and Per Petterson I responded to the way these writers built their characters from the outside in, using vivid descriptions of wild landscapes. In non-fiction Barry Lopez has been a big influence, writing about the soul of a landscape and how northern communities have become intertwined with nature over generations. The book Arctic Dreams is a must read for anyone thinking of travelling in the Arctic region. I've bought copies of the Heftig og Begeistret DVD to giveaway -that's a must see for anyone interested in characters within a modern, but still wild landscape.
You've worked with NGOs, arts organisations and now science teams.
Working on your own as a photographer can be hard, there is always the feeling that however good you are at researching the subject, you’re missing something. Working with a few specialist NGOs I felt I got closer to the underlying issues. Another benefit of working with partner organisations is that the photography can be directed to point, the work is actually required on some level. There is a heightened sense of purpose when teaming up with an NGO, which in a world of overproduction of images is no bad thing. Lately working with scientists it's a similar feeling, their work (particularly with climate change and oceans work) has a degree of urgency.
Is there a conservation or sustainability message in your work?
Working in the Arctic I can’t ignore the pace of the changes taking place. In terms of the loss of sea ice coverage in Summer, that has been more dramatic than anyone predicted. I've become aware of how everything connects in that place, of the interdependent nature of the Arctic system. I realised how it connects to the rest of the world too, in terms of climate and temperature regulation, ocean currents and sea levels. The Arctic became a prism through which I saw the rest of the world, the first signs of climate change and the implications of human ‘forcing’ of our climatic system, that has become implicit in all the exhibitions and live shows I've done recently. I’m still a photographer though, not a campaigner. Is it possible to make great photographs and make great environmentalism? I think I have to prioritise. Of course, if I can make great photographs that go on to support great environmentalism…
You seem to spend a lot of time on ships?
I added up the various trips on the back of an envelope one time and found that I've spent one complete year of my life on just one vessel (The Arctic Sunrise). Across eight vessels, the total sea time across my career to date, is around 2.5 years at sea. I never set out to be a sailor, it just sort of happened that way. The sea voyages led to good stories so I kept on going, working on the Arctic Ocean sea ice, it's still one of the best ways to get there. The Watchkeeper story came out of the endless time I spent on ships, waiting to get to a location for a story -I needed a story that I could build and add to on the way, about getting there.
Why the Arctic and Antarctica?
It all started by chance when I was chosen for an assignment to Alaska back in 2000. I had to go out on the sea ice off Prudhoe Bay and whilst there something clicked; I just felt incredibly at home in the cold and the space of it. Twelve years and nine trips on, that feeling hasn’t worn off and I still love working there. Something about the space of it and how harsh the conditions can get, how brutal the weather can be there. My heart is very much still in the Arctic, but I’d like to work on some other stories too. I’m putting together a book (or books) about different aspects of the Arctic terrain, which is going to take a lot of my time, so the Arctic theme is intensive for now. They’re so different. The Arctic is a group of separate countries facing a frozen (or not so frozen!) ocean at the centre. The Antarctic is a continent land mass surrounded by ocean. What is happening in the two places is somewhat different too. You could say that what is happening (and going to take place) in the Arctic over the next few years, is so massive that it deserves a focus of its own. There’s a feeling that comes from working there, that you owe it that singular focus.
Are you a photojournalist, documentary photographer, or artist?
I trained at art college and then became a black and white printer, later I worked for daily newspapers and magazines as a news photographer, now I draw on all these skills to make my stories, I'm grateful for the diversity of that training. What matters is that I turn out an authentic piece of communication, that tells an identifiable story. I’ll consciously stray across these boundaries if I can. I think it's becoming easier to mix styles now; digital publishing and social media are breaking down the silos that previously existed in photography.
Do you still work on film -are you completely digital?
I used to make pictures daily on black & white film, but these days I use black & white only for ‘family’ and for notebook pictures. I never imagined that colour would become so central, because I found it harder to work with initially, really hard. Now I actively choose colour over black & white. I want to use black & white again for a story, so before it was discontinued I hoarded a stack of Kodak Tri-X in my fridge. When I make coffee those yellow boxes next to the milk tell me I must go out and do it soon.
Early on in my career, producing news stories from the Arctic Sunrise, I’d process colour negative film in a tiny darkroom at the bottom of the ship. Trying to get temperatures right as the ship heaved and rolled in severe weather, then drying the film to meet news deadlines, all the while managing the sea-sickness above the smell of the chemicals. Digital technology did save us that ritual; there was perhaps a sigh of relief when it came. Now I like to go back to film when I can, as it reinforces the craft aspect. Alex Webb said recently: “I dislike the intangibility” of digital media, which strikes a chord. But in the area that I work in, digital cameras are so useful, enabling me to work quickly in the unstable places like helicopters, ships and small boats. As digital cameras have become more advanced another advantage emerged, that we can shoot in ever dimmer conditions. For a photographer who likes to explore marginal light that new option can be very exciting. The advent of the digital age meant I never had to spend that queasy half hour amongst chemicals, in the dark at the bottom of a rolling ship, ever ever again!