Karen Frenkel – landscape photographer

Robin in winterKaren Frenkel is a bit like a coiled spring. The weather is perfect for landscape photography and she is itching to grab her camera and head for the hills.

First though she has to tackle a mountain of admin not least an interview with artsbeat.

We are sitting in her own purpose-built studio in the garden of her Little Hucklow home with a woodburning stove and beautiful view towards Bradwell Edge.

Some of her thousands of photographs are on the walls and the books she has produced on the shelves. Racks of cards bearing her images are ready to be taken to the shops and the 2014 calendars are in boxes ready for dispatch.

Clearly she doesn’t rest on her laurels but she thinks there is a lot more she could achieve and is bursting with new ideas she wants to develop.

“I never seem to have enough time to do all the things I want to do.  I rarely go out taking photographs for a whole day. I reckon 80 per cent of my time is spent indoors dealing with the business,” she says.

She is one of the most established professional landscape photographers in the Peak District having started in the days before digital cameras. Nowadays there is a lot more competition and the going has got tough.

But as they say that’s when the tough get going and Karen is determined to stick at it and look for new ways of earning a living from the work she loves.

“It is what I like to do. I am passionate about the landscape and photography.

“No-one would leave a good job to do this if they were not passionate about it. Now it would be very hard for me to give up and do anything else. I have lots of new ideas, new places I want to explore. I just want to go out there and take lots more images.”

The job Karen gave up 17 years ago was that of a research chemist. She had studied chemistry at university and then spent ten years in the industry where she also met her husband David.

They came to the Peak District and eventually Rose Cottage in Little Hucklow after he was transferred to Macclesfield to work at the start of the 90s.

Karen, 52, had always been a keen photographer having been given her first camera when she was 12 and encouraged by her father who had his own darkroom. She says she used to love watching the pictures they had taken magically appear on the paper.

In the early days her well-paid job enabled her to indulge her love of travelling and taking pictures and her worldwide gallery has some stunning shots from across the globe.

“When we moved here I was surrounded by all this beautiful scenery and I thought maybe I could try selling some of my work. I started building up the business by supplying images to magazines, calendars and greeting card companies.

“Eventually I became frustrated because I did not have enough time to do it, even though I was only working part time as a chemist. So I took the plunge gave up my old career and became a full time photographer.”

Now Karen’s work frequently appears in magazines, books and calendars and as well as producing greetings cards she also gives talks and sells her prints to galleries. She is one of the photographers exhibiting at the Peak District Photography Gallery above the Tourist Information Centre in Bakewell.

The Peak District remains Karen’s main inspiration and she admits there are many areas which she has yet to fully explore but her aim for the next year is to take more pictures of our coastline.

“I have bought a kayak and I intend to head out to the sea and capture pictures of the coastline and its wildlife from the water. I am really quite excited by the idea and am looking forward to revealing the results,” she said.

Very much at the incubation stage are plans to work on a project promoting awareness of conservation issues.

“It is something I have been wanting to do for a long time and in the next year I am going to make sure I find time to do it,” she added.

She confesses to being a bit of a frustrated painter and says nothing thrills her more than when someone says her images look just like paintings.

“My aim is to make them look as much like a painting as possible and it can take several attempts before it is just right.

“People may think we just turn up with a camera and click but it is not as easy as that. Sometime you have to go back to one place several times before you can get a satisfactory image.”

She uses a bluebell wood as an example saying that you can turn up too early when they are not quite in bloom, return the next week to find bad weather and the following week the flowers could be over.

“Then it’s a whole year before you can get the picture you want. You do have to work at it,” she explains.

To keep up with what Karen is planning and find out more about her pictures and books check out her website http://www.karenfrenkel.info