Interview With Nigel Turner

Nigel Turner has been capturing the landscapes of the American West since 1988. In this exclusive interview he talks about his career, his influences, his transition from film to digital and most importantly, his future plans

You were born and raised in the UK and yet, more than twenty years ago, you made the decision to move to the USA. Can you tell us the reason behind this move and the potential problems your photographic career was faced with?

I decided back in 1988, more or less out of the blue that I wanted to try and make my living as a Landscape Photographer. Having spent a couple of months travelling around the USA a year or so before, I had a newfound interest in photography. I felt that the opportunities in the US were greater than they were in the UK. At the time I had been looking for a way out of the 9 to 5 existence that I found myself in and as I was still young enough, if I failed then it certainly wouldn’t have been the end of the world for me. I had no real commitments in the UK at the time and just felt that this move would allow me to fully commit myself to the long learning curve that this specialised subject was going to need. I was more or less a complete beginner when it came to photography at the time but was looking forward to the challenge. I was also fortunate that I could sustain myself financially for a full year without the need to actually have to make a living and concentrate on the goals I had set myself.

You have been making your living solely from landscape photography for the past 25 years. Were there any ups and downs during this period?

I’ve been very fortunate that there haven’t really been any downs that spring to mind during the last 25 years but many highs for sure. Every day that I’m out in the field I consider a high and it certainly beats working a dead-end 9 to 5 job.

Seeing my work presented in the Patrick Collins Gallery in Aspen, CO; my first photographic exhibition less than a year after taking up photography was obviously the real turning point for me. I remember looking through the gallery window late one night after the gallery had closed and seeing ‘Storm over Canyonlands’ hanging on the wall. The lighting in the gallery just made the print glow! Also, my first ever published article appearing in the British Journal of Photography along with the front cover will stay with me forever.

I believe that you started photography by using large format 5x4 and 8x10 cameras. Your experience with those cameras?

I realised very early that if I was to be taken seriously in my chosen field that the only way to go was to adopt the large format camera system. Back then in the late 80s, especially in America, using large format for landscape photography was considered normal, especially if you wanted to enter the fine art gallery market. 35mm film was wildly accepted for magazine, calendar and postcard submissions and, of course, the stock agencies used mostly smaller formats, but this wasn’t the ...

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    I went on a workshop with Nigel some years ago. This article is the last thing I have seen about him. He seems to have vanished from the internet. I am curious to know why. Can you help with that please?

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