Taking inspiration from other artists – Chris Tancock

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I like to take inspiration from other artists – or to be more precise, how I like to enjoy the work of more accomplished artists and perhaps try and learn something in the process.

Today I just want to write a few words about the Welsh photographer – Chris Tancock, who describes himself as a rural documentary photographer as opposed to a landscape photographer, even though he takes photos of the countryside in which he lives.

I first came across his work when on holiday in Pembrokeshire in Wales a few years ago. His photographs were for sale in a gallery near St Davids and I found them particularly striking. The project was called ‘Quiet Storm’, and included a number of dramatic colour images of the Welsh landscape.

Later I found more of his work on the web, only to discover that he much prefers to work in black and white. Amongst his more recent projects are ‘Beating the Bounds’, ‘Off the Beaten Track’, ‘Farm’ and ‘The Dowrog’. I greatly admire his dedication to the work he produces. Beating the Bounds for example is a project spread over 5 years, where he walks the boundaries of 5 meadows, twice a day, every day, come rain or shine, observing and capturing the ever changing ‘story’ of the landscape he witnesses. The project is still incomplete but I am lucky enough to have the current version of his book called ‘Beating the Bounds’ which is published by Blurb.

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I also have another book by Chris Tancock called ‘Wildwood’ again by the same publisher.

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To me these images are not what might be termed ‘classic’ landscapes, where the photographer has used a well established formula to arrive at the finished photograph. It is hard for me to put into words the ethos of Chris Tancock’s approach to photography, so to give you a flavour of his style I have included a quote from an interview with the magazine ‘Onlandscape’ in which he said –

“I don’t want to hurt peoples feelings, but I don’t like boulders in the foreground, sunsets in the background, diagonals in between them, repeated again and again and again, hunting the countryside until you find these things. What does it tell you about the landscape? Nothing. It tells you about composition and the photographer, it doesn’t tell you anything about the landscape, but they’re commercially viable. They are very easily read images. People forget we read images on different levels and an image like that has the reading age of a 5 year old, its the equivalent of a Janet and John book”. 

Strong, heartfelt words and perhaps the reason why his images are documentary in style. His photographs may not necessarily be called beautiful but they certainly tell a story about the landscape and the countryside in which he lives. Many have a mysterious quality about them, little details contained within the image which are not always noticed on first viewing. Personally I think there is a beauty about the them and I very much enjoy following his latest work which he posts on Pictify.

If you are interested in learning more about Chris Tancock and his individual approach to his work, then you can read the full interview with “Onlandscape’ here.

For now I shall continue to admire his work and try and learn something from his approach to this particular style of documentary photography.

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