on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Creative Parallels

the photographic friendship of David Ward and Joe Cornish

Joe Cornish

Joe Cornish

Professional landscape photographer.


David Ward

T-shirt winning landscape photographer, one time carpenter, full-time workshop leader and occasional author who does all his own decorating.


Landscape photographers David Ward and Joe Cornish first met four decades ago. The friendship, and friendly rivalry, which sprung up at that time remains as strong as ever. David and Joe continue to work together, admire and critique each other’s photographs, teach, discuss and write about photography.

This warm and inspirational photographic relationship is the catalyst for our autumn exhibition. Very familiar with each other’s oeuvre both photographers will be selecting work from a combined pool of image choices. David and Joe’s working philosophy regarding this exhibition is to choose photographs which reinforce and confound expectations; images will be chosen in pairs to show correspondences of form, colour, composition and theme. However, despite each photographer having a reputation for a particular style in the landscape photographer genre, David and Joe are keen to exhibit photographs which do not conform to this trend: the exhibition will include landscape vista photographs by David Ward and intimate landscape details by Joe Cornish. The final image selection will include both recently made photographs and a few old favourites.

Creative Parallels exhibition opens on 31st August and runs to 24th December 2023 at the Joe Cornish Gallery, Northallerton

As a mathematically illiterate non-scientist, I am still intrigued, beguiled, and fascinated by all the manifestations of the world around us and the wider universe beyond. A few weeks ago, Sam (our earth science PhD son) left a book very deliberately out on the kitchen table, which caught my eye. Helgoland is by Carlo Rovelli and aims to help the curious-but-not-necessarily-scientific reader get to grips with quantum mechanics. I am about 2/3rds of the way through and still unable to grasp the apparent mysteries of the sub-atomic world. But one thing I do understand that comes through strongly in Rovelli’s narrative is this: relationship. His overriding philosophical framework for quantum theory is that everything exists in relation to everything else and that isolating elements is…misleading.

I did find that an exciting concept, if only because when it comes to composition in photography, it chimes with my own view of how pictures work. Namely that their internal relationships, of light and colour, texture and tone, form, shape, line… that all these ‘elements’ of composition exist in relationships, and attempting to break them down into conventions, rules, and regulations is simply… misleading.

Dw Echoes Of Fox Talbot

David Ward, Echoes Of Fox Talbot

Jc Finn On A'mhaigdean Ridge

Joe Cornish, A'Mhaigdean Ridge

And there is another aspect of relationship that has become fundamental to me over time. That is the relationship with friends, mentors, associates and colleagues that guide our creative endeavours. We always owe something to others, however much a landscape photographer’s work appears made in isolation.

In planning ‘Creative Parallels’, this autumn’s joint exhibition with David Ward, we will illustrate through our choice and juxtaposition of images old and new that the ultimate expression of creative relationship is: collaboration.

For several years I worked on books with Eddie Ephraums, and I recall Eddie telling me then how much he enjoyed and believed in collaboration. This might well be the first time I thought consciously about it, and I realise now that this idea has guided many of my own since. I am also hugely grateful to Eddie for our particular collaboration, based on friendship. We worked constructively and creatively through ideas, navigating differences of opinion and approach, to produce books which I am still proud of twenty years later. Eddie’s design aesthetic, sense of proportion, layout and knowledge of typography, as well as his own brilliant photography, remain an inspiration.

Jc Rain Dance Newton Wood 23 08 02

Joe Cornish, Rain Dance, Newton Wood

Dw Peel

David Ward, Peel

I’ve also been so fortunate to have worked with many outstanding photographers and painters, especially in the last decade. It seems wrong to name drop my way through a list, but having led workshops with personal heroes of mine like Charles Cramer, Mark Littlejohn and Mark Carwardine (wildlife), it’s also a chance to express my gratitude. I have also co-led with the leading landscape photographers of the next generation, Antony Spencer and Alex Nail, and last year had a joint exhibition with Simon Baxter, whose woodland photography has almost single-handedly elevated this vital theme as inspiration for British photographers.

Of all those I have collaborated with, though, no doubt one stands out, and that is my dear friend David Ward. I have lost count of the number of workshops we have led, and the days we have spent together on the hill or by the sea. It has been a friendship based on banter, shared experiences, philosophical discussion, dubious jokes, good food, the odd glass of red wine, and plenty of silliness.

Dw Ice Shadows 2

David Ward, Ice Shadows

Jc Unto The Hills

Joe Cornish, Unto the Hills

But until now we have never had an exhibition together. While I can’t deny that this is just a little intimidating for me, it is also a wonderful opportunity to share our ongoing conversations about the medium and the world around us. In presentation, the formal concept we have chosen is to share and pair images together. In some cases the connections might be obvious, in others less so. But we are aiming to ask questions more than provide answers.

Joe Cornish, Dewdrop Galaxy

Joe Cornish, Dewdrop Galaxy

David Ward, Salt Arc

David Ward, Salt Arc

The themes may include (in no particular order):

Compositional anatomy and symmetry/asymmetry;
Storytelling and the expression of ideas;
Geography or Metaphor?;
The unfamiliar familiar;
Gifts of Light;
The transformations of photography;
Creative associations and references (from other art forms);
Striving for connection.

David has a reputation as an intellectual heavyweight; ‘formidable’ doesn’t really begin to do him justice. I like to say the reason he lets me co-lead workshops is that I am there to make him look good! The extraordinary loyalty he enjoys from his clients, many of whom inevitably have become friends, is all the evidence needed that wherever we are with our photography, David helps us see the world in new and different ways. He achieves this through his teaching and guidance, through his endless ability to provoke ideas, and through his unique images.

Joe Cornish, Contours Of Concern

Joe Cornish, Contours Of Concern

Sand Puzzle

David Ward, Sand Puzzle

Over twenty years ago, First Light was published (commissioned and designed by the aforementioned Eddie Ephraums). The final chapter is entitled Friends and Heroes and gives me a chance to focus on a number of photographers who influenced me over the years. Several of them are remote figures who I never met (Ansel Adams, David Muench, Peter Dombrovskis). In the case of Paul Wakefield and John Blakemore, I am lucky enough to have met them several times since publication; while the rest are friends who are also heroes. One of these is David.

David Ward, Hope

David Ward, Hope


Joe Cornish, Gribdale Woods Winter

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. We have had many, many experiences and adventures together, workshops, tours, and evenings of discussion, debate, and laughter. And the occasional scotch. We have been lucky enough to work with a dazzling array of brilliant photographers, many of whom have gone on to make outstanding contributions in the photographic community and beyond.

I have seen David’s own work ebb and flow according to the inevitable rhythms of the creative life. Right now, he is on another surge, finding new ways to surprise, baffle and delight the viewer. It is a privilege to be able to share exhibition space with David, in my eyes, one of the world’s most creative and inspiring photographers.

Jc Warpaint Rock 2022 05 04 0008402

Joe Cornish, Warpaint Rock

Dw Steel Wheels

David Ward, Steel Wheels

Launch Event

The exhibition runs from 31st August to 24th December 2023 at the Joe Cornish Gallery, Northallerton.


Talk Ticket

Thursday, 31 August 7:30PM - 9:30PM

Tickets £30 (for Talks only - please use separate option for Buffet tickets)

Talks by David Ward and Joe Cornish

Hosted by Tim Parkin

Long Gallery - First Floor

Private Buffet

Buffet Ticket.pages

Thursday 31 August 6:00PM - 7:30PM

Tickets £20 (for Buffet only - please use separate option for Talk tickets)

Savoury Buffet with a Yorkshire Twist served with wine.

Gallery Café - Ground Floor

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