on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Endframe – “Wiltshire, October” by Barry Thornton

Phil Malpas discusses one of his favourite pictures

Phil Malpas

Phil Malpas is a freelance photographer, educator and writer living in Swindon. Phil's first book "Capturing Colour" was published in November 2007 and was followed in November 2009 by the publication of "Finding the Picture" which was co-authored with Clive Minnitt. In 1994 Phil attended the first ever Light and Land tour in The Lake District and the following year, joined Charlie Waite for the inaugural overseas tour in Tuscany. In May 2002 Phil led his first tour with his good friend Clive and has has since led over 80 Light and Land tours and workshops to various locations around the UK, Europe, the United States, Cuba and the Far East.


I thought about it long and hard, but I just couldn’t admit to having a single, favourite photographic image of all time. I do have favourites, but they seem to change from day to day, perhaps based on my mood or things that interest me at the time. What I do recall though, are a number of images that represent key moments in my own photographic development. They may not be the best images ever made, but they did affect my own approach significantly and as such hold a special place in my visual recollections.

One such image is “Wiltshire, October” by Barry Thornton. I moved to Swindon with my job in 1989 and was looking for a way to fill my time during the long days spent away from my friends and family in Northampton. I happened on an evening class run by Brian Walker (another inspirational figure to me), which led to a number of City & Guilds qualifications in photography.

I became totally absorbed in all aspects of darkroom work and eventually began teaching my own classes on colour printing from negatives and transparencies (the old fashioned way with lots of smelly chemicals). In 1993 Barry Thornton published his seminal book “Elements” and Brian was able to persuade him to run a few one-off classes at the Blackthorn centre in Cricklade where I was also teaching. I was lucky enough to meet Barry (and get him to sign my copy of Elements) and have to admit to being slightly star struck in the presence of the great man.


I can still remember reading Barry’s words that accompany the image in the early part of the book. He describes how one October day he was travelling to a business meeting whilst agonising over his future. It seemed we had something in common. The full time job that efficiently paid the bills was getting in the way of our passion for making photographs. 

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