Interview: Lydia Harper
Lydia Harper, a photographer from Herefordshire, England, shares both her story and love of landscapes.
Photography: Lydia Harper
Has photography always been a career you were intent on pursuing, and how did it all begin?
It really wasn’t and I spent a long time going in the wrong direction. Four years studying for a degree I’ll never use followed by three years living between the UK and South Africa in part-time, miserable work. Whilst out in South Africa I started shooting landscapes, never really learning how to use my camera or thinking that there was potential for me to turn it into a job. But I fell in love with the ocean, how different it could look depending on the weather, the time of day or even just how I edited the images. Slowly people started to follow my work and enquiries started to come through for photography jobs here and there. About a year ago I decided it was time to take a leap of faith, so I quit my job, taught myself how to use a camera properly and just started making road trips around the UK. I am still learning and I take something new from each shoot, but in the past year my entire life has changed. I am happy, I am doing what I love and meeting like-minded people through my work is the most valuable thing. More recently I’ve started to believe that this what I’m supposed to be doing and that it will work out in the long term.
What is it you are aiming to capture in each of your photographs?
When I visit a place of course I like to capture the landscapes, but I try to look a little closer for the details that are easily overlooked, whether it’s the certain way a wave crashes or the texture and colours of the plant life. I don’t aim to come away with postcard perfect images but rather to capture the sense of a place, how it feels to really be there.
What kind of feeling or reaction do you aim to inspire in people when they view your photography?
If my work inspires someone to go outside and appreciate the world we live in, or for them to travel to a place just because they liked how I captured it, that’s pretty awesome. On a slightly different angle I would love for more people to realise that they can make a career out of their passion, not everybody needs to go to university or to work a 9-5 job to be successful.
What would you say has had the greatest impact on your work?
I am driven by the fact we don’t know how long we’ve got. I don’t need to make a fortune doing what I do, but if I can die knowing I visited such incredible places and that I was able to turn what I love into a career then that is more than enough. I try to spend as much time as I can shooting the things that interest me in the places that make me happiest and because of this the content of my work is heavily influenced by what I love; the ocean, road trips, botanicals and gloomy weather.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge?
I think most people go through it, but just those times when inspiration is lacking and self-doubt is on tap. It can be a struggle but when it happens I just try to plan a trip or a shoot that is different to anything I’ve done before and the challenge of that usually shakes me out of it.
Where has been your most exciting shoot to date?
On a personal level Norway was probably the most rewarding; I was there on my own and it was so eerily quiet yet just the most beautiful place. I remember getting lost in the mountains at night on these dirt roads with no barriers and huge cliff edges. I didn’t see another car for hours and I had no phone signal but I was on top of the world that day. There is something really satisfying in knowing I did that trip on my own and that I enjoyed the complete lack of company.
In terms of landscapes I haven’t been anywhere that compares with Iceland, I know it's over done but there is a reason for it. It’s the kind of place that is so vast and impressive it constantly reminds you how insignificant you and your worries are.
Where do you dream of travelling to next?
I’m about to tick off one of my dream places next month when I visit the Dolomites in Italy so that is pretty exciting. At some point in the next couple of years I would love to travel out to New Zealand or the States and spend a few months there travelling around in a camper.
Do you aim to constantly evolve and develop your images, or is there one particular style of photography you prefer to work with?
I am so new to this and still learning so I definitely want that to continue and for my skill set to develop. I do think that I have created an aesthetic and consistency in my work that I am happy with but I’m sure that will evolve overtime too. Right now I would love for my wedding work to become more in keeping with my landscapes and travel images. To be able to combine the two and shoot weddings in beautiful places is something I am working towards.