Howard Pratt’s enthusiasm for landscape photography is infectious. As I sit beside him, while he talks about his pictures flashing up on the computer screen, I begin to wish I could pick up a camera myself and get stuck in.
It’s not that he’s making it sound easy, it’s his ability to explain things clearly that gives me the confidence to believe I might be able to do it.
And to be honest it was also his assertion that you don’t have to hike for hours to the top of a mountain to find beautiful landscapes.
I am pretty certain I won’t be getting up before dawn for a two hour trek, but I may well be able to capture interesting light on woodland trees while out for stroll.
Howard, who is based in Chesterfield on the edge of the Peak District, studied professional photography in the late 70s and then embarked on a commercial career that saw him taking pictures for theatre and television, including many of celebrities. He spent a few years managing a theatre company, has worked in print and design and more latterly was teaching computer science.
All the skills the 62-year-old learned and the experience he gathered are now being channelled into his own business as a commercial and fine art photographer offering workshops and printing services to other keen photographers.
“Photography is a passion I have always had. I remember as a child seeing pictures my grandfather had taken of Queen Victoria on glass plates.
“And my father was a keen amateur. He used to take me out with him and he taught me a lot. I still have a copy of the first picture I ever took,” said Howard suddenly searching around to find a black and white photograph taken in Lichfield. He quips that it is clearly unremarkable but it still has significance to him.
“All those years I was working I was still taking pictures – but developing my interest in landscape photography took a back seat.
“Now I have more time and, living in Derbyshire, I am ideally placed to be able to go out and take photographs whenever I have the chance. I am really enjoying the challenge of learning more and improving my work still further.”
Howard has completed his licentiate distinction with the Royal Photographic Society and is looking to gain further recognition.
He spends a great deal of time exhibiting and selling his photographs at markets and fairs, including the Chatsworth Country Fair, and at Ashbourne and Chesterfield, where the Artisan Market is held on the last Sunday of every month.
“It is a joy, a real joy, to meet people who are getting pleasure from my interest and I enjoy talking to them about my passion.
“Knowing that people love what I do gives me a reason to get up at 5am in the morning and go out looking for the next picture.”
Go to http://www.howardpratt.co.uk for details about Howard’s photography and photoshop courses and where you can buy his prints.