Interview With Antony Spencer

When he was named Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2010, Antony Spencer knew his life wouldn’t be the same. He explains why he loves cold climates, chasing storms and reveals the one photograph that inspires him above all others

You were Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2010. To what extent has winning that competition helped you and your photographic career?

Initially, it was a massive boost. When Charlie Waite came knocking on my door I knew I had an opportunity to get things working better and a bit more publicity. Charlie and I live in the same town. The story goes that he went to picked up the phone to make the call and then realized the dialling code was the same as his. He found out where I lived and thought, ‘I can walk there in ten minutes.’ So he walked up and knocked on my door, which was really amazing. It was a Sunday afternoon, I opened the door and saw Charlie Waite standing there with a big grin on his face, which was really cool.

I suppose you thought it was a dream?

You do at the time. I looked at him and he said, ‘I’m Charlie Waite.’ And I said, ‘Yes, I know who you are!’ And he seemed quite surprised. That was amazing and the publicity in all the publications that came about over the next few months was just incredible. I was already beginning to lead tours to Scandinavia to photograph the Northern Lights, so I had started doing workshops and tours, and then meeting and getting to know Charlie led to me getting involved with Light & Land, which was a massive thing for me at the time. The publications in all the newspapers, and the print sales bolted onto that, was incredible. So, yes, it was a huge leap forward very quickly and it put me into a position that I wanted to hold on to rather than let slip away. I’ve been trying to capitalize on every opportunity I’ve had since then.

Did you have any formal training in photography?

No, not at all. I got my first camera when my son was one, which was late 2006 to take pictures of the kids.

What was the camera?

My Dad was going to Hong Kong and he had just bought himself a Canon 1DS Mk II, which was then the top camera on the market. I showed a lot of interest and he said he could pick me up one while he was away and I said, ‘Ok, that will be great.’ I gave him as much money as I had and I wasn’t sure what he’d come back with, but he came back with a 5D Mk I and a giant 28-300mm L series white lens. It was really cool for about two weeks until I realized just how bad that lens was! After about three weeks I decided I was going to part exchange it. I had seen the work of people like David Noton and Charlie Waite and it was them and other local Dorset photographers that really inspired me to go out and give landscapes a go. So I spent some time looking online, researched what I’d need, went out and bought a ...

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