on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Drawn to Rock

Grit and Determination

Joe Cornish

Joe Cornish

Professional landscape photographer.


Regrettably, like many pro photographers of a certain vintage, I have learned to become wary (euphemism for downright cynical) of those bearing gifts.

“Those” in this case means potential commercial clients – companies, councils, publishers, charities etc – upon whom professional photographers depend for commissions.

The “gifts” in question are usually the wildly ambitious ideas and plans for spectacular and wonderful-sounding projects which, after much enthusiastic talk, often evaporate into the ether. Or more disturbingly, turn out to be real, but with no budget for – you’ve guessed it – photography.

For every animated face-to-face conversation, or enthusiastic phone call, or excitable email about a potential commission, I have learned to expect that perhaps only one in five, or less, will ever see the light of day.

Northern Figure

So when Justin Scully, general manager of the National Trust’s Fountains Abbey and Brimham Rocks properties started chatting to me at the gallery one day in the summer of 2017 I showed polite interest but had little expectation of anything coming from it. In fairness, the National Trust had been a great client over the previous three decades. But for the previous few years photo-library commissions had thinned and then dried up completely. It was pretty clear that the Trust no longer required my kind of photography.

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