Q&A – John Shedwick Photography

1. What made you get into photography? 

 Photography actually came into my life by happenstance. It was something I never really had a passion for many years ago. Back then, when something didn’t come to me naturally, it used to frustrate me and I’d not continue with it. As you can imagine this left many stones un-turned in my life. I now understand that you have to put on the blinkers and push like fury through the topsoil before a skill becomes second nature, often the passion blossoms along with the effort and that’s how I came to love it. I originally wanted to write a guidebook for walks in the Lake District as I’ve always loved the fells round here and go hiking and running in them whenever I get the chance, so I wanted stunning imagery of the area, yet didn’t have the funds to purchase all the stock photos I’d need. I did however have £200 to buy a reasonable enough camera and £50 for an online course. I then spent the next few months learning how to use a camera whilst out on my runs; if the weather meant there were no good photos, I’d still get a good run or walk in, so satisfaction wise, it was always a win – win.     

2. What’s your favourite kit to use ? 

 Fast & light every time. I favoured Sony cameras when I started, as they were just cool and with their small form factor, meant I could just pop the camera in my bag and set off out on a run. I spent a couple of years hardly ever carrying a tripod, and still don’t very often. If I do it’s a small, light carbonfiber one. It was always more about getting out into the fells. I’d look at a map and say “Well the Sun’s coming up about there, and going down over there, so if I go for a run over this ridge, I might bump into some good light”. That’s almost always how I plan my shoots, very little kit, so I’m not stood around too much. I’d seen enough photographers stood for hours in hail storms with a tripod, waiting for that perfect moment, and it just looked miserable. Keep moving, fast & light, and then you get the unexpected shots.   

3. Favourite View in the lakes to photograph? 

 The next one. I’ve a few favourite fells – Black Fell, Green Gable, Pike O’Blisco – but views? Nothing gets me quite as giddy as when I’m anywhere on the fells and that light comes through that you never expected to see, and it just blows you away, doesn’t really matter where it is.     

4. Your favourite picture of yours and why?   

 Probably the Langdale & Helvellyn temperature inversion one ( https://www.photoslakedistrict.co.uk/#/langdale-pikes-and-helvellyn-range-temperature-inversion/ ). I’d just finished my shift at the pub back when I worked at the Britannia and there was about an hour and a half of daylight left. It was drizzling quite heavily so I was just going out for a run up Pike O’Blisco, one of my favourite race routes. Just before the summit I broke through the cloud which I didn’t think possible due to the rain, but all the fell tops were sticking up out the cloud and the sunset colours in the sky were spectacular, clouds pouring over Stake Pass into Mickleden like a waterfall. Luckily I’d thrown my camera in my bag so got that panorama from about 7 shots and then just stood there for half an hour and watched it all. Absolutely stunning.    

5. Favourite place in the Lakes to eat? 

 Baldry’s – Grasmere. Double Rarebit with poached eggs. The best indulgent dish in the cosmos.   

6. Favourite photographers and why?

 Oooh, there’s a few, but I’d say top 3: 1. Benjamin Von Wong ( https://www.vonwong.com/ ) – especially ‘Fairytale’ and ‘Home’, and his underwater shots with the basking sharks & shepherdess 2. Chase Jarvis ( https://www.chasejarvis.com/ ) – Not necessarily for his photography, though it’s pretty amazing, but for the message he puts out to entrepreneurs and creatives. It’s really positive yet good and pragmatic.3. Sebastião Salgado ( https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/print-sales/explore-artists/sebastiao-salgado ) – Especially his ‘Brooks Range, Alaska’ – If you want a coffee table book that will blow you away, Genesis is one of the best.  

7. What’s your go to exercise to stay fit and happy?

 Fell running – especially a lovely, nasty bit of downhill scree. No better breakfast.  

8. Do you have a morning routine and if so what is it?

 I do. It’s something I probably do most days of the week but I’m okay with letting it slip once in a while:4am – Wake up and get the coffee on. Drink a pint of iced water and sit down to journal for 30 mins or so, then the rest of the hour reading a book.5am – Meditate for 10 minutes before getting out my list for the day, firing up the computer and rattling through it.7am – Go out for a run / take photos / go to gym – If it’s the gym it’s there and back in an hour, for a run/photos, can take the rest of the morning.10am – Open emails and messages and reply, add to my general todo inbox.        If it’s a super early sunrise for photos, that happens first then when I get back home I pick up the rest.  

9. Fave place to watch a sunrise?

From a tent, with a brew, on top of a fell.


10. Fave place for a dip? 

 Birks Bridge (The old one), Duddon Valley – The water is always nice and deep and cold and there’s underwater pillars and small pockets to explore. The second tier of the waterfall can also be sat up against and used for a massage. Bliss.  

11. Favourite quote and why?

 You can’t ask for one! Here’s 5 (quotes with why below):  “In prosperous times, put it in your pocket; in lean times, put it in your heart.” – Les BrownTeaches me to not worry when things aren’t quite going right and to just keep working at, and through it.  “If what you have done yesterday still looks big to you, you haven’t done much today.” Mikhail GorbachevDon’t pat yourself on the back for too long and don’t stagnate – always look to do a bit more.  “We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” T.S. EliotThis reminds me that if I don’t understand something now, or it means little to me, or it’s failed; it’ll probably make sense in 10 years when I look back as to how it fit in.  “It’s very hard to be hungry when you’re fed.” – Gary Vaynerchuckwhich in turn reminds me of this one – “Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared?” – SenecaGo travelling with just a pocket full of change and a tent, photograph something with just one camera and a lens, don’t winge about the piece of equipment you don’t have – just get started. Visit John’s listing to find our more about him and his amazing work.


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