on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

End frame: The Snake River. Cauldron Linn, No. 2 Jerome County, 2003 – 2004, Thomas Joshua Cooper

David Magee chooses one of his favourite images


David Magee

David Magee (b.1963) is an Irish Artist. He was born and raised in Cork, Ireland and studied Fine Art at Crawford Municipal School of Art, Cork. In 1982, he attended Glasgow School of Art & Design. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including more recently, The Paris Photography Prize (PX3) - The Lucie Awards, New York, - Tokyo International Foto Awards. Outside, a twenty-five year retrospective, was published to international acclaim in 2017. He has exhibited globally, his works are held in both private and municipal collections. Having travelled extensively, it is the Irish landscape, particularly the Atlantic coastline, that has become the focus of his work in recent years. It is his home, the source of his subject matter and the inspiration for his work. Magee lives and works between his homes in West Cork and London.


My ‘End Frame’ would always have to be a picture by Thomas Joshua Cooper. The difficulty is in choosing just one !

My first meeting with Thomas was before the internet, before the digital revolution, and certainly before the arrival of social media and the Metaverse! It came after a 390 mile drive from my home in Cork, in Southern Ireland, to Culzean Castle overlooking the Firth of Clyde on the west coast of Scotland. It was late summer 1982, (over forty years ago !) my mode of transport a ‘tired’ but trusty Renault 4, and after a long drive and ferry crossing I was set to join my new classmates at Culzean for a photographic field trip. I didn’t own a camera or have any idea what lay ahead, and especially how the future and my moving to Scotland to study at the revered Glasgow School of Art would pan out - but it was most certainly exciting and the introduction to a whole new world for me. All quite overwhelming for a 19 year old, young man from Cork.

Since I first met Thomas all those years ago, I have cited him as being my biggest inspiration. It was he who ‘planted the seed’ in my becoming totally absorbed in the world of photography as an art form.

To those of you unfamiliar with Thomas Joshua Cooper and his work - he is today seen as one of the most celebrated and distinctive landscape photographers working anywhere in the world. He was born in California in 1946 but has lived in Scotland since 1982. He was the founding head of photography at Glasgow School of Art but spent much of his life seeking out the edges of the world. Like artists such as Richard Long and Hamish Fulton, Thomas is a traveller and nomadic artist whose extraordinary photographs are made in series at significant points around the globe, most often at its extremities.

Using an 1898 Agfa field camera and specially made photographic plates, Thomas creates extraordinary, meditative landscape photographs printed with selenium-toned silver gelatin. The capturing of any one image can involve days, weeks and months of preparation and arduous travel. The locations are found on a map, tracked down and then photographed, each place the subject of a single negative made with a weighty antique field camera. They are meditative, almost philosophical images, exquisitely printed by the artist in the 19th century manner with layers of silver and gold chloride.

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