Inside this issue
James Lane is an English landscape photographer, was born and raised in Yorkshire, is a physics teacher and has various degrees in earth sciences, for what that’s worth. James has been a photographer for three and a half years and has no formal artistic education. If you really want to learn more about James, just look at his photographs or reach out to him on social media or via email. James is always happy to speak photography with anyone!
In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.
Tim and I both spotted James at the same time when he shared a portfolio of work on Twitter during summer 2021; it was a little surprising to learn he’d only been making images since 2018. On his website, calm landscapes and comforting skies sit in contrast to the chaos and disharmony of woodland. On his Instagram feed, this man of science reveals a love of words and writing; here he talks about finding his voice, images that whisper, and the impact this is having on his life. It is clear he has found his passion.
Would you like to start by telling readers a little about yourself – where you grew up, your education and early interests, and what that led you to do as a career?
I have always been excited by our natural world, overly-excited if you ask some of my friends. This most likely stems from a young age, where I would be obsessed with science and nature documentaries. As an only child, these were often some of my best friends.
It was actually while watching an episode of Horizon on the BBC as a teenager that I discovered I had synaesthesia, specifically where I see time (dates, months, years) as having a particular location in space, a particular colour and, weirdly, an emotion attached to them. I also see numbers and letters as colours too. Whether this has any influence on my photography, I don’t know. I do find certain colours and combinations of colours to be very difficult to like, maybe this is linked. So, perhaps my brain is wired for creativity, perhaps it isn’t. Either way, I know I find the pursuit of landscape photography to be both mentally stimulating and emotional.
It was in my teenage years that I truly fell in love with the outdoors, specifically during my Duke of Edinburgh award where a group of unsuspecting 14 year olds were told to plan a route, bring food, and were subsequently deposited in the middle of the Lake District National Park to fend for themselves. One of the best experiences of my life, and I did this all the way to the Gold Award (a 50 mile expedition). Back in the early 2000s, the Lake District wasn’t as busy as it is these days. We would often be walking through the fells for hours or days without seeing another soul. It is during these times that I first tasted independence and fell deeply in love with the landscape.
Also, my grandfather used to be a Peak District National Park ranger, so always had a similar intrepid outlook and I would go on frequent woodland wanders with him as a child, growing a love for the outdoors.
My interest in the natural world continued to flourish when at 18 I was lucky enough to go on a 6th form trip to Malaysia where we learned how to SCUBA dive, about coral and general marine conservation, thus beginning a life-long love of diving and an obsession with the seas and oceans.
Inevitably, these interests led me to study earth sciences at university, focussing on sedimentary geology, geophysics, hydrogeology and hydrogeochemistry, fulfilling a desire to understand the landscape I loved being in so much. I have wonderful memories of international field trips studying the volcanology of Tenerife, hiking up Mount Mulanje in Malawi and creating geological maps of areas of both Malta and the Peak District National Park. I was getting to know the landscape I would subsequently end up photographing - I just regret not owning a camera at the time!