Snapper John’s sense of adventure

Photographer John Beatty. Photo contributed.
Photographer John Beatty. Photo contributed.

INTERNATIONALLY renowned travel, nature and adventure photographer John Beatty will be making the short trip across from his Peak District home to appear at next month’s Buxton Adventure Festival.

John, who lives in Bamford, will be among a host of top names to speak at the brand new festival, taking place over the weekend of October 20 and 21 at the Pavilion Arts Centre in Buxton.

Here he takes time out to answer some questions:

Q: How much has the Peak District shaped you as a photographer?

JB: Totally and completely. I couldn’t do any of this without the depth of the root that I have in the Peak. I went into it as an eight-year-old. I was independently hiking on the moors at 15 and I’ve been doing so ever since. I go on the moors at least twice a week. I’m now cycling because of dodgy knees daily in the byways and highways of the Peak.

It’s completely fulfilling. It’s a vital resource for the cities that surround it. It’s like an oasis, a garden, it’s a playground and it needs respecting for that and looking after. And the Peak Park, the ENT, the Moors for the Future - all these agencies do a damn good job.

Q: With camera phones, are we living in a time where we photograph everything but see nothing?

JB: I think they see even more. Photography has changed as a mode of communication. It used to be science and art - now it’s almost a language between people. There’s a very good quality camera on most personal mobile phones and the camera will eventually be dispensed with. Everyone is making a visual record of their life now and it’s part of the voice that you use.

Q: You don’t often talk about the technical side of taking a photograph. Is that a conscious decision?

JB: The technical side of photography is of little interest to me. It’s a bit like a musical instrument - if you have a handle on it, it’ll work. I’ve got to the point where the camera’s an intuitive expression.

I also feel that photography intrudes in the moment I’m experiencing therefore I’m trying to close that gap so that it’s seamless, so that I’m recording at the same time as experiencing without making a fuss about it.

All cameras faithfully record what you point them at so it’s what you point them at and what you frame within that little rectangle.

Q: You’re a great story teller. Did you really see Yeti footprints (in the Himalayas)?

JB: I regard them as potentially Yeti footprints. I took them to the British museum and they sort of refuted them. They tried to give a facile explanation of what it might be.

It was plausible - it could have been four footsteps of an antelope melted out over the period of a month in the snow - it might have been. But I can only record what I felt like when I saw these things. They were very, very large.

One of the things that humanity craves for is a sense of wonder. People like mysteries. If you drive down the roadside in Inverness you’ll see road signs “Nessie - This Way” and I bet you long to see a wavelet or a dark shape on the water.

* John Beatty will present his talk Wild Places, alongside two short films, at the Buxton Adventure Festival on Saturday October 20, at the Pavilion Arts Centre at 5.30pm.

Tickets - Adults: £10 for one session or multi-buy saver - £18 for 2, £24 for 3, £28 for 4, £30 for 5. Full-time students and under-16s: £5 for one session or multi-buy saver - £9 for 2, £12 for 3, £14 for 4, £15 for 5. Family saver ticket (two adults and two under-16s): £20.

Available from Buxton Opera House Box Office on 0845 127 2190 or online at www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk and www.buxtonadventurefestival.co.uk.