The new year got off to an exciting start when I embarked on a new book in collaboration with writer and BBC Wales broadcaster Jamie Owen; I snap, he scribbles! The book will be a celebration of Pembrokeshire; its customs, traditions, communities and ways of working that are perhaps in decline in the modern era.
It kicked off with the Hen Galan (Welsh New Year) celebrations in the Gwaun Valley. The valley community celebrates the coming of the new year on January 13th. They follow the old Julian calendar which was abolished by an act of Parliament in 1752 and superseded by the Gregorian calendar which is what the rest of us use. The people of the Gwaun Valley refused to play ball back then and continue to do so!
The celebration is typified by local children going door-to-door singing to the residents of the valley to welcome in the new year for which they are richly rewarded with money and sweets (Calennig). It was a privilege for Jamie and I to be able to record this wonderful tradition amongst a community that values its privacy and the uniqueness of its celebration.
The book will comprise twelve chapters, one for each month of the year. February is the Dale peninsula; can’t wait.
I recently wrapped up the photography for a book in collaboration with the makers of the cult Welsh-made crime drama Hinterland (or y Gwyll if you prefer the melodic tones of our native Welsh tongue). Personally, though not a Welsh speaker I prefer the authenticity of y Gwyll: put simply, the language suits the landscape; ancient and true.
The project meant travelling around Ceredigion for eight months exploring one of the grittiest landscapes in Wales and I absolutely loved every single minute of it; even the bit where I had to reverse down a car-huggingly narrow lane for nearly a mile when I arrived at a padlocked gate after a very long and gruelling day’s photography! Deep breaths and thoughts of chips in Aberaeron on the way home helped me maintain my cool.
As a die-hard fan of the show one of the highlights, amongst so many, was going on set in the wilds of the Cambrian Mountains to shoot the cast and crew. Richard Harrington (DCI Tom Mathias), Mali Harries (DI Mared Rhys) and the crew were a top-notch bunch; inviting and chatty in that inquisitively warm Welsh way.
My contribution to the book comprises 120 pages of black and white landscape and detail shots, telling the story of each of the locations I visited. Should be out May or June 2017 and I can’t wait.
I’m currently about half way through photographing my next book ‘The Buildings That Built Wales’. A rather grandiose title perhaps, but as with all my books the title basically encapsulates the premise of the book; I’m a simple soul that likes a literal world! The book aims to chart the socio-economic-political development of Wales since the mists of time…..how prosaic! It’ll contain a diverse collection of buildings; Caernarfon Castle, The Senedd in Cardiff, rural chapels, woollen mills, Tintern Abbey, Port Talbot steel works, Pentre Ifan etc. Should be out by the middle of 2015.