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Capturing a county: photographing Somerset

My journey as a photographer began in cities. London, where I was living, but also the places I travelled to as part of my day job. It's how I came to love street photography.


Then I moved to Somerset. It's where I grew up and where I have now returned to. Like lots of people, as a child, I couldn't wait to escape it, but now, as an adult, I understand and appreciate its unique charms – which feed into my photography practice.


Somerset is steeped in natural beauty and rich history. Rolling hills, picturesque villages, coastal vistas – they all offer opportunities to capture striking images.


Embracing nature's abundance


From the moment I set foot in Somerset, I am drawn to the unspoiled natural landscapes. The greenery of the Somerset Levels, adorned with wildflowers and meandering waterways. The coppices of woods that branch off from country lanes and border farming fields. It's here in Somerset that I really began to delve into nature photography. It almost felt rude not to, with such amazing landscapes on my doorstep.


The historic architecture


Somerset's villages seem like they are straight out of a fairy tale. Cobbled streets lined with quaint cottages draped in ivy, and centuries-old churches with elegant spires. The colours of the stone buildings. The tones seem very different to those of the city, which makes for very different photographs.


The seasons in Somerset


Every season in Somerset paints a different story, transforming the landscape with its unique colours and weather. And each season, as it changes the shapes and textures and light around me, also changes my image-taking. Each season presents its own unique photographic challenge.


Coastal charms


As I venture towards the coast, along the Bristol Channel, I am greeted by rugged cliffs and expansive sandy beaches. These too are photographic challenges that were new to me when I moved back to Somerset. With coastal photography, it is hard to capture that sense of place, that sense of something elemental in the sea. But just because it’s hard, doesn't mean it’s not worth trying, right? I also like the contrast of the coastline with the man-made structures that often congregate on the shore: the buildings looking out to sea, the bridges that link Somerset to Wales.





Embracing the unexpected


Somerset really is a place you can wander in. It's like the flip side of street photography in London; here, you wander to get lost in fields and woodland. And it's in wandering, in letting yourself be present in the moment, that you can see the unexpected image, the angle that might make for a good photograph, even where you were least expecting it.


Fostering my development as a photographer


As I said, moving to Somerset and starting to take photographs here was challenging, far removed from what I was used to. But I feel my photographic skills are evolving and maturing as I explore it more. I find myself experimenting with various photographic techniques that I might not have done in the faster pace of a city. Somerset's diverse scenery challenges me to expand my skills and discover new ways to photograph.


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Somerset serves as a wellspring for my photography. The region's natural beauty, charming villages, cultural richness and the warmth of its community has provided me with a whole new canvas for creative expression. For now, at least, it's home. And that feels good.

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