Walking with Will
I first met William Fiennes at the Edinburgh Book Festival. People were raving about his book, The Snow Geese, a thoughtful and personal travelogue. Brought up in a castle and educated at Eton then Oxford, in many ways he is the archetypal Englishman with a lack of vanity and a host of rather famous relatives. I was delighted to be asked to team up with Will for Intelligent Life Magazine first in South of France then again along the Northumberland coastline. We met in Southern France in a small village that had a café and bakery both of which we visited before embarking on our journey into the Verdon Gorge and along the river to an area called The Styx! The Verdon Gorge is a beautiful cavernous slice through the French landscape. However what you have to know is that it was the worst day in six weeks. The rain came down as though attached to lead shot. All day. Even through layers of Goretex we were soaked. Each of my lens cloths was wringing whilst the cameras offered an ethereal diffused vision of the Gorge as the clammy sodden atmosphere settled everywhere. Despite it all we had a ball. There is something refreshing about spending time with someone, who although being wet, tired and filthy still maintains a wonderful ‘joie de vivre’ and is fully appreciative of the glorious surroundings. Nearing journey’s end, or as it was the half way, as we needed to retrace our hours of footwork, Will carried on to swim in the 'River Styx' as I embarked on taking some more pictures in one of the few areas where I was protected from the deluge. I was very aware that that the magazine did not generally pay for overseas shoots and that it was my responsiblity to producing a suitable quality of work to match the quality of the publication. The next time we met was in Northumberland. I only had a day and was on location before sunrise. When I met Will he was bemoaning the preponderance of golf courses along the coastline. I see his point but as a golfer can think of a lot worse things to have. Ironically or perhaps inevitably we ended up eating in one of the clubhouses. The route just seemed to be miles of beaches and dunes and tricky to photograph. At various points along this route we would meet up and finallyy, opposite the causeway to Lindasfarne, we said our farewells. Will walked off into the distance. The domain of many of the self employed is to enjoy brief snippets of company before retreating to a solitary existence inhabited by writers, photographers and artists. In many ways it is an unnatural but necessary state. I hope that our paths will cross again on some other terrain. I have had the pleasure to meet with many writers and doff my hats to them. Writing unlike photography is a more considered medium. You write something, read it re-write it and so it goes on until you feel you have conveyed exactly the message and mood you hoped for. Photography by it's nature tends to be more from the gut. Like my portraiture I need to respond to the subject in front of me and throw away preconceptions.