Dan Scape: “A lot of it’s been inspired by the Peak District being on the doorstep”
Dan is an award-winning photographer based in Sheffield, capturing landscapes, journeys and details that bottle up the feeling of the outdoors both close to home and in environments further afield.
Tell us a bit about what you do…
The majority of my work is landscape and nature photography. A lot of it’s been inspired by the Peak District being on the doorstep here. And that’s where I kind of started, you know, going out on hikes and walks there with a camera.
When did you first start out taking pictures outdoors?
That was probably around about 10/11 years ago, as in when I really sort of started to get into photography quite seriously. Since then, it’s kind of taken me to lots of different places: Scotland, Italy, Iceland, Nepal, the Alps, Dolomites. I’ve been lucky enough to shoot in some great places.
How did this go from hobby to occupation in that respect?
I guess it starts with the interest in being out outdoors. As a kid, I went to the Lake District a lot, climbing mountains up there and those sorts of things. And then once I finished uni and had a bit more time on my hands when I was working and looking for something to do on weekends, I started going out to the Peak District more. It kind of came through that in terms of wanting to take better pictures of where I was, so I started reading about photography, and it was something that just seemed easy to stay interested in.
Very much self-taught then?
Yeah, you kind of get those things every now and again, where it doesn’t feel like you have to force yourself to learn about it and you just go out and do it more. I just kept on upgrading the camera, went out more and more, and I’d say it took three or four years to get to that stage of feeling like I knew what I was doing. In 2014, about four years after I started, I picked up an award in landscape photography for a picture of the Arts Tower in Sheffield, so that was a motivation to start taking it a bit more seriously selling prints of my work.
What would you say are the most challenging aspects of landscape photography?
I think it’s tricky for me doing it alongside my day job. It’s tough because it involves travel, and it’s finding that time to get to new places and explore; it’s not as easy to just turn up somewhere for an hour as you’re very much working with the conditions, which means ideally you want to go somewhere for a week, or at least a few days, to be able to try and get some good weather. The other challenge is just often the best time of day is first thing in the morning and it can be difficult to get out of bed for those early bird shots. If I could switch that switch, then I’d probably be 10 times more productive.
What sort of things do you mostly aim to capture in your photography?
I think the main thing with landscape is light. You can be anywhere really and if you can get the right light and some dramatic conditions, it’s going to look good. Stormy days tend to be much better than nice, sunny days because you just get that changeability with the cloud and light, maybe a bit of rain, then maybe a rainbow appears, etc. I think that’s why sometimes it’s really rewarding to get photos in and around Sheffield and places locally: it’s easier to find the right conditions and the right light.
Do you have a favourite place to shoot? Or maybe a series that you’ve worked on?
It’s difficult as it does change from time to time. As far as a collection of images go, the ones from Nepal are probably a favourite, just because it’s somewhere that I’ve read about a lot; I’d read all the mountain stories and climbing stories, so to spend three weeks there and take pictures every day was really enjoyable. And in terms of the more local side of it, I really enjoy Surprise View in the Peak District. Padley Gorge and Bole Hill Quarry are other local areas that I like to go to, especially now with the autumn colours coming on.
What really ignites the passion for what you do?
For me, it’s mostly just being in and capturing the outdoors. I think that’s the thing with photography: it’s interesting to learn, but you’ve got to apply it to something else that you’re passionate about and genuinely interested in. You need that initial passion and then the photography aspect allows you to explore it a bit deeper.