Life in landscape

Capturing the vision, with Charlie Waite

Charlie Waite

'Take a view', the brainchild of renowned landscape photographer Charlie Waite, is one of the nation’s most exciting photographic competitions – and the search for the 2013 Landscape Photographer of the Year is now on.

Rewards caught up with Charlie for a quick chat about his work. Here, he shares his top tips on getting ahead in photography – and how to impress the 'Take a view' judges.

Q: Tell us about 'Take a view'+

Charlie: This competition came about through a desire to promote landscape photography as an art form – but it’s got an important, secondary function, too.

We want to encourage people to go out into the UK’s beautiful countryside – it’s there to be found, and explored – and capture the experience for themselves.

Beech trees, Dorset

What we’ve discovered is that the competition really encourages people to learn about their own country, and discover places that they’ve never been to before.

Q: What moved you to specialise in landscape photography?+

Charlie: The accessibility of the subject matter – and the complete freedom it gives you.

You’re completely alone – it’s a private, personal experience – when you can stand back from the hectic pace of life, and simply wonder at the extraordinary nature of existence.

Poppies, Dorset

It continually challenges your perceptions – there’s just so much to think about when trying to make a good photograph – each and every time.

Q: If you could choose just one of your landscapes to live in, which would you go for?+

Buttermere, CumbriaCharlie: Good question! My work's taken me around the world – but, when everything’s said and done, it’s got to be the UK.

It doesn’t get much better than the Lake District – it’s wild, beautiful, and remote – yet only a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

It’s got a wonderful literary heritage, too.

Q: What are the biggest challenges in making an image?+

Chicklade, WiltshireCharlie: I find that it’s not easy to be spontaneous – often, the moment is too fleeting.

And some landscapes are so fluid and changeable, that you just can’t capture their essence at all.

You have to be tenacious – work at it until the image is perfect for you. And always pay attention to the edges of the frame!

I’m always striving to do better. There’s always some small element of the image that doesn’t go to plan – and, although the final result is a perfectly good photograph, you know in your heart that it’s not quite right – and that it didn’t meet your expectations.

Q: What catches your eye, when judging 'Take a view' competition entries?+

Highland Cow, ScotlandCharlie: For me, first and foremost – a striking image has to have emotional impact. A photograph can be technically perfect – and yet have no heart.

You have to feel it, and engage with it – the viewer has to feel that you’re standing there with the photographer, sharing the moment.

It’s hard to define – we have a range of creative people on the panel, all of whom bring different sets of criteria to the judging process – and a truly great image succeeds on lots of different levels.

Q: What's the essential kit you need?+

Charlie: You don’t need top-of-the-range equipment – I always say that the only equipment you need is your eye, and your heart.

Buchailletive, Glencoe, Scotland

What’s most important is having that sense of recognition – that this moment is going to make an image – and being able to convey that experience to yourself, and to other people, through the photograph.

Q: How much has changed in landscape photography, since you started out?+

Charlie: There are always fads and trends, as in any creative medium – from the heavy filters and golden sunsets of the 1980s, to Instagram today.

The rise of digital cameras, mobile devices, and social media has certainly made photography more immediate and accessible.

Ferry to the Isle of Wight

There seems to be a real impulse to share images and experiences, indicating that people want to be artistic – and that’s what we’re tapping into with 'Take a view'.

Q: What are your top five tips?+

  • Horses, LincolnshireGet other people to look at your work – images can often take on a personal meaning to you, that’s not transferable to the beholder
  • Be aware that wonderful landscapes can be found anywhere and everywhere – there could be a perfect shot just around the corner
  • Print your photos out – it’s a completely different, tactile experience. You see your images in such a different way from viewing them on your computer screen
  • Don’t get set in your ways – be open to new trends
  • Be an optimist!

Need some inspiration?

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(24 October 2013)

All images © Charlie Waite