Art is a funny old thing. It allows people to capture the world around us in a unique way, putting their own spin on everyday sights. It allows the artist to tell a story, it inspires emotion and can even move a person.
Photography is a particularly difficult medium to master. With the rise of the smartphone, taking a photograph isn’t difficult; however, capturing something beautiful is another task entirely.
Today, we feature Phil Peake, a local photography enthusiast who captures simply stunning scenes often featuring Skipton at the centre of his work.
Where it all began
Over thirty years ago, Phil started taking photographs with a Russian Zenit 35mm film camera and lens. This combination was built like a tank but was more capable than it would seem. It was clunky and slow to use, but that same clunkiness and slow handling taught Phil to really think about how to achieve great photos.
He spent as much time as he could getting out and taking pictures of anything that interested him, from landscapes to animals, people, nature and everything in between. Sadly, however, ‘life’ got in the way and photography very much took a back seat for a long time.
Taking the plunge
Fast forward to 2015 and that all changed. Phil retired from the police service and he and his wife Linda moved to Skipton from Northamptonshire. Linda started her business, The Vintage Wash House, and needed some product photography for the website. So, given that Phil had experience in photography, he asked himself “How hard can it be?”, got permission from Linda to spend some money on camera equipment, and set up his own small photographic studio. He soon set to work learning product photography… and soon realised it could be very hard indeed!
Phil began to fall back in love with photography, taking shots of anything that interested him. He said, “This was the first time I had really experienced digital photography, given that I cut my teeth on film. I’m blown away with what can be achieved with today’s technology.”
Phil strongly believes that a photograph should tell a story or evoke memories, so the viewer really thinks about what they’re seeing. They might look at a street scene and wonder what was going on at the time of the shot. They might see a landscape and think about visiting the area where the picture was taken.
Of particular interest to Phil is black and white photography. “I love black and white,” he explains. “I’m influenced by such photographic luminaries as Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier Bresson and the like – their work is just breathtaking. For me, black and white photos, particularly documentary or reportage style ones, seem to bring an angle to a shot that colour may not always achieve. Often, there can be a gritty, stark quality which I find fascinating.”
Recently, Phil has been spending more time in and around Skipton taking photos of the town. “As someone who has relatively recently moved to the area, I think it is just a great place to be. Skipton has some amazing architecture and character, which should be really treasured and continually documented,” he observes. Phil has found himself trying to take pictures of Skipton that are different to the normal ‘touristy’ shots. So far, through his Facebook page, he has received some fantastic feedback on such images.
Phil said, “Since getting back into photography, I’ve found that people have really taken to my work. Social media is fantastic as it allows people such as me to reach a far wider audience than was previously possible. I am genuinely surprised and humbled that people appreciate my pictures, which spurs me on to be the best I can.”
Phil describes himself as “an enthusiastic amateur”, but has ambitions to become professional in the future. “That way,” he says, “I can justify the purchase of some tasty photography kit to my long-suffering wife!”
Check out his work
His website is currently being built and will feature his portfolio at philpeakephotography.com