on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Foreground First

A style evolving

Richard Childs

Richard trained as an Orchestral Percussionist in the 1980's but his true love has always been the outdoors and particularly mountain environments. Throwing in his drumsticks to become a full-time photographer in 2004 he continues to work with a large format camera alongside digital equipment and exhibits his work in solo and group exhibitions as well as at his own gallery in the Ironbridge Gorge. Links to Website and Facebook



As a follow up to what I felt was a slightly panicked 10 minute lightning talk at this year's On Landscape Conference (it’s very hard to concentrate with half of my brain counting down the seconds and a gun pointing at your head!), I would like to take a little more time to better clarify a couple of the points I was trying to make.

I regularly post my images on social media, particularly Facebook, Flickr and now Instagram. Every now and then a comment will pop up saying something along the lines of; “when I saw the thumbnail image I immediately recognised it as being a ‘Richard Childs’ “Of course I recognise my own work because I can (still) remember the making of each image but I’m not sure I would recognise my own unique style among the blizzard of images we are exposed to these days.

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I’ve never really set out as a photographer to create a ‘signature’ style with my image making. My method is simply to head out with an open mind and see what happens, the resulting images a reaction to the light and conditions I experience. Clearly, I prefer to shoot on darker days, something perhaps born out of necessity while living in Scotland but also because that's what appeals to me  (it is reflected in my musical tastes, and of course in all the other visual arts I choose to indulge in). To that end, a forecast of settled weather and clear skies will usually see me heading out for a walk, in my office or at the gallery.

The foreground is particularly important to me (in more ways than simply as a compositional aid) and I shall discuss why later in the article. The foreground is certainly the reason I shoot the large majority of my images upright as I always want to include as much of it as I can. The way I choose to use foreground has had a profound impact on the overall composition of many of my wider landscape shots bringing me to realise that I very often employ my own ‘rule of fifths’. While this isn’t unique to my photography, I’ve taken the time to go back and analyse my images and found it’s something I’ve come to realise I use very regularly.

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