This year, we’ve enlisted the help of three amazing photographers to help judge our South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year Competition. Today, we’re introducing you to architectural and landscape photographer Quintin Lake. We asked him more about his amazing career, connection to the Coast Path and what he’ll be looking for in a winner. Plus, Quintin shares some top tips on how to get the perfect shot.
Tell us more about your work as a photographer and your love of walking…
I’m a photographer inspired by the serenity of elemental wilderness landscapes travelled on foot. I undertake multi-day walks alone, carrying a tent, which helps me discover unexpected features of the landscape and allows the spirit of the place to get under my skin. Walking becomes integral to the creative process. My photographic expeditions have taken me to 70 countries with a special emphasis on environments such as jungles, deserts and the arctic.
In more recent years my main area of interest has been the British Landscape. A walk from the source of the Thames to London led to walks along the Ridgeway, a 20-day journey across the mountains of Wales and then to a walk from the source of the Severn to the sea. From 2015-2020 I undertook a 11,000km walk around the coast of mainland Britain called The Perimeter www.theperimeter.uk. Described by Professor Ian Wray as ‘A transcendent vision which shifts the ordinary and taken for granted into the magical and sublime’ the project has been featured internationally including The Guardian, Country Life, The One Show, Der Spiegel and The Hindu. I fund my projects via fine art print sales.
What is your connection to the Coast Path?
The South West Coast path is very close to my heart as I first walked part of it after my GCSE’s on my first ever backpacking trip in 1991 with a friend where I remember the feeling that the endless ups and downs would never end. We carried far too much gear and a ridiculous amount of tinned food so by the time we got to St Ives we were so exhausted we put the tent up on a park in the middle of the town and were moved on my the police in the morning! I must have enjoyed it though as when I was 20, I walked from Lands End to John o Groats for charity and followed the SWCP for the first week again. A few years ago, I walked the entire Path as part of my 11,000 km walk around the coast of mainland Britain (Perimeter), which I finished this year. My self-imposed rules for that walk mean that I didn’t take any ferries, so I had some massive detours around some harbours like Falmouth – which took three days!
How easy is it to photograph the Trail?
There’s more daily ascent and descent on parts of the SWCP than anywhere else on the British coast and this intricate and undulating landscape, while uniquely dramatic and exciting to experience first-hand can make photography difficult as it’s hard to convey the nature of the terrain at ground level when the cliffs are rising and falling around you. I found a telephoto lens used at a distance often conveyed the scale better than wide angle and that special consideration had to be given to sun angle as the rugged landscape is often hard to read in a photo if it’s in shadow or in flat light.
What you’re looking for as a judge?
I’m looking for images that both relate to the competition theme and shows me something I haven’t seen before. As a secondary criterion I’ll be looking for processing and composition choices that enhance the subject matter.
Have you got any tips for the photographers entering?
Consider building up a series of images on a single theme that interests you over a number of days and then picking the best to enter in the competition.
Don’t fall into the trap that a good photo needs good weather. Pack your camera even if rain is forecast – you might be surprised!
Along with earning the coveted title of South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year 2020, our winner will get their hands on a brilliant prize. This year we have teamed up with the folks at Finisterre to offer a grand prize of £500 worth of quality outdoor kit. As a B-Corp company prioritising the environment, Finisterre create sustainable clothing which withstands even the wettest of days out on the South West Coast Path. Click here to read a recent blog post from them supporting our work to protect the Path.