SNAP HAPPY: Professional photographer Gary Richardson
SNAP HAPPY: Professional photographer Gary Richardson

Photographer Gary Richardson drove more than 25,000 miles last year to gather material for his walking books. One of his favourite sites for the landscape shots that are his passion is Teesdale, as he told Wendy Short

PROFESSIONAL photographer Gary Richardson bought his first digital camera in 1999 and has used the format exclusively for the past eight years.

He uses a Canon M6 camera and firmly believes that a good photograph is “at least 60 per cent good luck”.

Being in the right place at the right time is essential, and he will often visit the same place many times, before he is satisfied with the resulting image. The first step towards taking a good photograph is to establish a clear reason why the shot is being taken.

“There are many factors which will affect a photograph; the time of day and the season are two obvious elements, but a lot will depend on the viewpoint, and the position of the sun.

“I have visited the Cuillin hills on the Isle of Skye numerous times, but it was only recently that I was successful in achieving the effect that I had been hoping for. Teesdale is a short drive away from my house and I have amassed hundreds of photographs of its landscape over the years; I feel very lucky that it is on my doorstep.

“If a picture does not look good on the camera screen, it is not likely to be worth keeping once it has been downloaded. It is also advisable to zoom into a shot while it is still on the screen, to check that it is in focus.”

Lightroom is the software program favoured by Gary, who also uses it to edit and to categorise his many thousands of pictures. He prefers to use only minimal effects to enhance his photos, preferring to leave them looking as natural as possible.

Gary’s family used to farm at Copley, but his father was not interested in agriculture and worked as a biochemist at Darlington hospital. Gary was keen to join the Navy as a chef when he left school, but his parents dissuaded him from this path and he ended up working for 25 years as an engineer in the construction industry.

In 2009, he suffered an injury while on a walking holiday in Nepal and damage to his neck and back meant that it was no longer comfortable for him to sit at an office desk for long periods of time.

Having always been a keen photographer, it was a natural progression for him to turn his hobby into a new career. Photography workshops and sales of walking books and landscape prints also provide an important source of income.

Durtona

Gary’s wife, Sheena, is also in the same career and works at Darlington hospital as a clinical photographer.

Photography Workshops

Some of Gary’s photography workshops involve wild camping, which means an overnight stay away from an organised site. Others offer a gentle stroll through the countryside with Gary on hand to give advice and comments.

“Countryside walking does not necessarily have to mean covering tens of miles,” he says “A lot of enjoyment and knowledge can be gained by taking a gentle stroll and really exploring your surroundings.

“People think that a good photograph requires a lot of fancy equipment, but with the advances in technology that is no longer the case. Some mobile phones can also be used to take nice shots, although they are limited, in terms of depth of field.”

Walking Guides

Walking is Gary’s other major passion and he has produced several guides, which feature his hand-drawn maps.

Walking in Teesdale is one such publication, with the booklet containing 24 walks of varying lengths. These have all been mapped out by Gary himself, accompanied by Sheena and their two collie dogs.

Another walking booklet, entitled The Quieter Side of The Lakes, also features his own illustrations. Also by Gary are two commissioned handbooks, with one outlining 100 walks in County Durham and another 100 walks in North Yorkshire. Both are published by Crowood. In addition, Gary writes for a number of countryside walking magazines.

Gary can be contacted by email at gary@garyrichardson.me