Whenever someone gives up smoking it is always a win-win situation, but when Michael Cummins decided to quit we all got to benefit from his resulting portfolio of landscape photographs.
The idea was that he would buy camera equipment with the money he saved and would keep himself occupied by taking pictures.
What started out as a hobby eventually became more serious work, about eight years ago and he says now it is an all-consuming passion.
“For the last three or four years I have been out every day – sometimes twice a day – in all weathers. I really have become passionate about it and I have finally accepted it is not just a phase I am going through.
“I find that I like the solitary nature of what I do and like nothing better than to be walking through the hills and moors carrying my kit. Because I like to work alone I much prefer the early mornings to sunset as there are lots more people around at the end of the day.
“And, if I am honest, I prefer to be able to leave in daylight and not have to try to get off a mountain in the dark,” he added with a laugh.
“Truthfully though, there is little to beat the mists at sunrise if you get it right – which at this time of year is quite hard as you have to be up so very early. I can be out of the door at 3am sometimes.”
He was rewarded for his tenacity last year by winning a coveted place in the Outdoor Photographer of the Year book for which he had three pictures shortlisted.
Michael, who lives in Great Longstone, spent much of his life working in newspapers and magazines and now runs the online tourism directories Let’s Stay UK with his wife Bridget. His photography work complements the business by helping promote the Peak District and as well as the scenic shots, he also provides a commercial service for cottages, pubs and other businesses.
His pictures of the Peak District, which form one of the largest collections online, are available for download, as prints or on canvas and consequently have become some of the most familiar shots of the beautiful landscape.
In fact you are now able to see them in some of the unlikeliest places – I did a double take recently when I spotted giant versions of his images in the windows of the Spar store in Hope.
Michael says the grocery chain has commissioned him to take more for other stores – Chesterfield and Heanor are first on the list and he will soon be investigating landmark spots in Heanor for some new shots.
“The marketing team want to use large pictures of the local landscape to fill the windows and walls of their shops and it certainly brightens them up. I wasn’t sure what they would look like quite so large, but I am really pleased with the results,” said Michael.
While the Peak District is his first love when it comes to landscapes Michael also loves to photograph the Lake District, Northumberland, Scotland, Wales and Andalusia and you can view all of his images at http://www.michaelcummins.co.uk
There is currently an exhibition of Michael’s pictures at the Hassop Station Cafe on the Monsal Trail, and some at the Garden Cafe, Calver Nurseries and The Packhorse Inn, Crowdecote.