Paul Gallagher FRPS
I never really understood or had any idea what photography was about when I was in school but art and the creative processes were some of the few subjects where I felt free.
On leaving school I decided to pursue the study of graphic design in art college and within the first few weeks of this course I was told that photography would become part of my daily life as a designer and also part of the study program. It was on that day that I first headed out with a camera and first entered a darkroom.
I think as a sixteen year old, the sense of power and freedom I experienced to go out and photograph what was important to me, what meant something to me, and later present this as a finished print was something that changed me as a person. My interest soon became an obsession and I read everything on photography that I could get my hands on from the college library and gazed at thousands of photographs by hundreds of photographers over those years during my studies.
Every place I lived after that had a darkroom, no matter how rudimentary, and making photographs became an integral part of my life. Straight out of college at the age of eighteen I found work in a studio and was fortunate to be sent back to college to study printing for a further two years as part of my apprenticeship. These early experiences became the foundations of what I am today as a photographer and I am forever indebted to them.
Along with photography, the outdoors and wilderness have always drawn me strongly. There has always been something within me that changes as I walk out into the hills or along the coast. I spent many hours with my father in the mountains which cemented this love. The connection with the wilderness and my absolute drive to make photographs fashioned me into the photographer I am now.
The camera and equipment mean little to me; they are simply the apparatus to achieve the outcome. I did spend the vast majority of my professional career working with large format cameras, but today I am more than happy to leave those 28 years behind me and enjoy digital platforms. Teaching photography is something I love as much as creating my own work. I became a lecturer in photography and have taught in a number of colleges and also have the privilege of passing on my knowledge during the many field workshops I run.
So what does photography mean to me today? It is simply my life and there is not a day that passes where I do not have some involvement in making photographs. I speak to many people who state that they have never really found something in their lives that they deem as a cornerstone of who they are. Photography is the very foundation of who I am. To make photographs of the landscape that represent what it means to me is still wonderfully challenging and rewarding. Now that I am using digital cameras, I can choose to present my exploration in colour or black and white, and more recently, my exploration of digital infrared photography has become another avenue of discovery for me.
It is true to say that although my journey through photography has been a part of me since I was a boy, I am still as driven and inspired to make photographs as much today as I was then. Photography of the landscape is what I accept as my 'life sentence' and the images on this website offer you a glimpse of my moments out there, and hopefully, what it meant to me.
Paul Gallagher is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society (FRPS) and also an RPS Landscape panel member for associateship and fellowship assessments.
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