Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Doyen of Gower Photographers

Photography is a real art form. In the 1950s two young men from Mumbles developed an interest in wildlife and photography. They had a healthy rivalry, producing some fine black and white images of Gower. Over the years, through publications such as ‘The Gower Journal’, Harold gradually emerged as the ‘unofficial’ photographer of all things Gower - the doyen of local photographers. His work became know well beyond the confines of Gower, and he is still a national force in the Royal Photographic Society, of which he is a fellow.

Naturally Harold’s work eventually appeared in book form, ‘Gower Images’ in the 1980s containing a lovely set of black and white images, and ‘Gower in Focus’ in 2007, a similar work, but this time on colour. Harold’s unique style and quality shine through in both publications, as do his intimate feelings for Gower in the images portrayed.

On a cold winter’s afternoon, with a gale blowing outside, I thumb through the pages of Harold’s books. There are several photographs of birds, but it’s the mood of the images that is most striking. Sea and sky feature large, but perhaps the most captivating photograph is the one on the front cover of ‘Gower Images’ of the sun setting behind the wreck of the ‘Helvetia’ on Rhosilli Beach; it’s magic.

There are other Gower photographers of course, and several come to mind. Peter Douglas-Jones, a disciple of Harold, published ‘Three Corners of Gower’ a few years ago. Containing a wonderful selection of colour photographs, it is mostly devoted to landscape. Since the advent of digital photography, many have turned their hands to taking pictures on Gower, and there is now a plethora of postcards and booklets for sale at touristy places. Several photographic calendars appear each year, and there are no doubt millions of photographs on countless websites. All these have their own special merit, but to capture the real essence of this wonderful place, I need to return to Harold’s early black and white masterpieces, and I sometimes have the privilege of seeing the original prints.

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