Valerie Dalling: photographer

Valerie Dalling’s life as a photographer has become one big adventurous journey made up from a multitude of mystery trips into the Peak District.

She is a woman who feels deeply passionate about her work and her subject matter, and once she has made up her mind to do something she says she always gives it 110 per cent of her energy.

Which is why she has recently moved from the south of the county to the heart of the Peak District at Ashford-in-the-Water to carry on her project Journeys Through The Landscape.

“This project is just totally my life now. It is about journeys of discovery, just me, the car and my camera. I never know quite where I will go, what I will see or who I will meet, but all of it is recorded by my camera and my notes.

“For the last three years I have been driving to the National Park to capture the landscape as a visitor, but now it has even managed to move me here to be part of it,” she explained.

“It is actually taking some getting used to as I am having to think differently about what I do, but I am glad we have come to live here,” she added in a fleeting moment of seriousness.

Valerie began her journey as a photographer in the early years of the Millennium.

Urged on by friends she decided to go to photography evening classes and then with new-found confidence she applied to study Fine Art Photography at Derby University and to her surprise got accepted.

“I was going to study part-time over six years but in the first week I knew it was something I wanted to totally immerse myself in, so I asked to transfer to a full time course and gave up work.”

The tutors warned her it would be tough but she was determined to prove she could do it, and she left three years later with first class honours and a degree show which became part of the 2006 FORMAT International Photography Festival.

Since then she not only creates and sells her own work, but has also founded The Ockbrook and Borrowash Image Club, a non-competitive group for photographers of all abilities to share ideas and knowledge.

On top of that she is very much involved with the Derby Hospitals arts charity, Air Arts, for which she runs a series of workshops and is also currently showing work in its Ten exhibition, at London Road Community Hospital.

While Valerie enjoys helping others to learn about photography, she is still keen to learn more herself which is  how four years ago she found herself out on a course with Peak District landscape photographer Chris Gilbert, and unwittingly sowing the seeds for her big project.

“There are over 20 million people within an hour’s drive of the Peak District and until I moved here I was one of them. As a visitor I was completely seduced by the landscape and thought I knew it quite well, but that day when Chris took me to Lumsdale near Matlock I suddenly realised how little I knew about the area,” she explained.

“I had read The Old Ways: A Journey On Foot by Robert Macfarlane and a book by Celia Fiennes who travelled around England on horseback in the 17th century, and I decided I wanted to record my own journey – but mine would be in the car.

“All the landscapes I capture are easily accessible, just a short distance from the road. My camera is often in action from the moment I pull up in the car and step out.

“There is so much to capture out there that I don’t think I will ever lack inspiration and this project will carry on for as long as I do,” she added.

Valerie’s work can be seen at the Belper Arts Trail at the end of April, The Anvil Gallery, Sadler Gate, Derby, as part of the Format Festival and at Connected 10 at Patchings Arts Centre from April 1-May 7.

For more details about her work go to