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interview #12 - november 2019 - yes we are magazine

Ian WRIGHT - photographer Extremely precise (as Deborah Drexler whom you saw interviewed here a few months ago) photographer from the North-West of England, lover of landscapes from the whole United Kingdom but not only, Ian has developed several specific projects along the years as for example the one called Seaside Relics (link in end of interview) about the picturesque aspects of English littoral, with its charming architectural details but also its partial abandonment ; or another project in the Scottish countryside, which you have often seen in the mag. Perspective is another keyword for Ian’s images. Husband of another superb English photographer whom you also often see in YWAMag, Tracy Piper-Wright, he’s presenting us a brilliantly thought and clever interview about plenty of topics. Huge thanks to him. Basile Pesso, YWAMag director

First, I will ask you about your passion for perspectives. I started out as a landscape photographer, so that has stayed with me throughout my photography. What I have always wanted to do is place the viewers right in the centre of the image so they see what I see, and because of that I often eschew foreground totally as I want that direct line of sight like you get whilst standing on the edge of a lake or a hill. For all my ignoring foreground and the like, I am an absolute sucker for symmetry, leading lines and water so most of my photography will feature at least one of these!

Tell us about your relationship with England. It’s complicated. We live right in the very far North-West of Shropshire and England. The Welsh border is only 2 miles away from our house, so I feel a real affinity for Wales as I have also lived and studied there. I also have a love affair with the Highlands of Scotland where I have taken some of my favourite photographs, therefore I feel far more British than English and probably far more European than English. Like many people I feel an increasing disconnect with London and the South-East of the country. That all being said I love England for its variety, there are so many different landscapes and cityscapes to explore in a relatively small country. Within around 5 hours of driving I can get to the far corners of the country in any direction. I also love the variety of the English cities, within 90 minutes I can be in the centre of Birmingham, Liverpool or Manchester, all different cities with a very different aesthetic, social, architectural and cultural appeal.

Untitled, Parque Subway, Lisbon

Tell us about your love of travels. For me it is a real guiding principle and something I adore, I love to explore new places in Britain with the new photographic opportunities that gives me, and once there, to get away from what are the obvious places to visit and to prowl around the backstreets and underpasses to find what I think are the more interesting places to photograph. This all also applies abroad where exploring new cultures is added into the mix. We have travelled regularly to Spain over the last 15 years and have travelled to all corners of the mainland (I think in fact I have a photo of the most Southerly, Easterly, Northerly and Westerly point somewhere) and have revelled in seeing all that the country has to offer. It offers a truly interesting view of a country with something we don’t have which is «regions» and the fact that these are almost more like small countries, the differences between the regions are fascinating and maybe a little more pronounced for a visitor.


What gives you more pleasure : landscapes, geometry, decay ? All three at once ideally ! I guess though that the ultimate photographic high for me is chasing the light, nothing beats being out in the landscape, be it at sunrise or sunset and knowing that you only have a few minutes to capture what you need before the light changes or disappears. I never really use a tripod unless for long exposures etc, so shooting handheld means I can often be found heading off over a hill, footpath or beach at great speed to try and find «the shot». Sometimes they all overlap, in a recent project from the NorthWest of Scotland earlier this year, I noticed an abundance of buildings held together seemingly by corrugated metal, stone, string and a good deal of luck. Seeing such decay in such a beautiful place would not be everyone’s cup of tea but for me it only added to the environment, so much so I had to stop and photograph everyone we came across whilst we were up there. I’m slowly putting the project onto Instagram and am hoping to add to it with similar buildings from around England and Wales as well.

How do you consider your photo relationship with your wife Tracy Piper-Wright whom the readers of YWAMag know well ? How do you see the differences in your photo production and hers ? We are very lucky in that we both rub off on each other. Tracy comes from a fine art background and brings a wonderfully grown-up attitude to focus, composition, and also has the intellectual rigour from being an academic that always leads me to question what and why I am doing. She shoots a lot of film, isn’t worried by landscape and certainly isn’t that bothered by the tech aspect of photography. We have both been taking a photo a day for about 8 years and there has literally been a handful of times we have ended up with something similar.

left bereft of visitors when the package holiday revolution begun and it is has been interesting to see how these places have fared without the influx of visitors. In some places they have coped poorly and seem in a spiral of decline, some have found a niche they are happy with and accept the smaller crowds and still others throw money at the problem hoping to woo the visitors back. This can lead to bizarre structures popping up in the most unlikely places Time for a swim, Llanfairfechan, Wales

Tell us about your project Seaside Relics. It is a project that is about 5 years-old. I have always been fascinated by the coast and about 10 years ago we started lighthouse «bagging». This was brilliant fun as not only have we visited hundreds of these iconic structures but it took us to many places we wouldn’t naturally have been drawn to. Over time the project changed and the places around the lighthouses became more of a draw and I wondered how I could set about showing the British and their relationship to the coast, not in the Martin Parr‘s «sand and people» style as I don’t really photograph people as

such (although they may end up as context) but through our interaction with the coast in terms of how it is/has been used with specific emphasis on the buildings and structures on the edge. If I can get the sea in the image I usually do. Broadly speaking these interactions can be narrowed down a little. For example seaside resorts such as Blackpool, Great Yarmouth, Cleethorpes have enduring appeal and people flock there over the summer months but there are many towns and cities which were

Away from the stereotypical British holiday resort there is also the industry that has affected and shaped our shores. In the Highlands the clearances have left their mark and even in modern times abandoned villages have arisen due to people wanting an easier life elsewhere. In other places it is mining, docks and manufacturing that have left their mark. I guess trying to capture some of this is what I am after, it changes so quickly I fear some changes will be lost forever. It took me by surprise about 2 years into my lighthouse project when they announced some of the lighthouses I had visited were having their lanterns switched off, modern technology had simply made them redundant and this stayed with me as sometimes the changes can be quick. In another case on the Welsh coast a pier that existed a few years ago was demolished after the money could not be found to save it. It is a project with no end in sight as far as finishing but along the way there will hopefully be books and other outputs.


Leiter Inspired, Hull, England

What is the importance of the gear in your photography ? It isn’t that important to be honest, I haven’t bought a new camera in about 5 years and tend to shoot a lot of my photography with a compact and over the last few years also a phone. Always for me it is about portability, I have seen so many photographers get out of their car, find all their kit and struggle about 2m from where they are parked to get the same shot as the guy 20m down the road. I do have a DSLR which I adore, but that tends to be used more for the times I go investigating one single place like a specific beach. On those occasions I’ll often take my EOS around with me. Mobile phone camera technology though is getting increasingly good and after wandering around Madrid in the summer with my phone and a compact I have to confess that it was the phone that was providing the better, less noisy images. That being said I was taking photos of garage entrances for a project, so it could say more about the low light capability of my camera!

What does/did YWAMag bring you ? I love the variety of images that I get to see, I have to say Basile does a superb job of bringing a great variety of photography to my computer screen. It is always fabulous to see an array of images and styles from all around the world. It is also of course a privilege to be featured regularly amongst so many other great photographers.

Thank you so much !

links IAN WRIGHT tracy piper wright - Ian’s wife Ian’s superb gallery in YWAMag (click on the grey rectangle on bottom to get to the pages after the first : 70 images).

basile pesso/interviewer anne pangolin guéno/ graphic design


Profile for Basile Pesso

Interview of Ian Wright by Basile Pesso for Yes We Are Magazine - November 2019  

This is an interview of the English photographer Ian Wright, by Basile Pesso for Yes We Are Magazine. Made and published in November 2019....

Interview of Ian Wright by Basile Pesso for Yes We Are Magazine - November 2019  

This is an interview of the English photographer Ian Wright, by Basile Pesso for Yes We Are Magazine. Made and published in November 2019....