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IN FOCUS - Drew Buckley

Posted on 16th March, 2019

IN FOCUS - Drew Buckley

We are thrilled to announce that leading professional landscape and wildlife photographer, Drew Buckley, is joining the Dawn 2 Dusk Photography team. Drew is best known for his wonderful Welsh landscapes and he has an intimate knowledge of Wales’ most photogenic vistas. To help you get to know him better, we thought we’d ask him about life, photography… and winning awards!

Q) So, when did you begin taking photos and why? 

DB) Living in Pembrokeshire, it is hard not to be wowed by the local scenery and the array of wildlife on offer, so wanting to capture that on camera is a natural aim. Probably around my early teens I started to get more involved in photography. Gazing through the Argos catalogue at the latest compact cameras (ones with the biggest zooms always got my attention!), I chose a simple Pentax compact film camera for my upcoming fourteenth birthday. A few years later, I progressed onto my first manual control 'bridge' camera with a whopping 3.2 Mega Pixels! That probably started the learning process and did me proud for a good number of years. Mainly shooting anything and everything, including many rally events which I still love. Leaving college for my first job in 2005, I bought my first digital SLR, the Canon EOS 30D. Since then, I've moved through pretty much every Canon body while turning full time professional in 2010.

Q) You were previously a computer games 3D artist. What made you change career path?

DB) The short and sweet answer is redundancy. With the company closing, I had many job offers to work for bigger games companies around the UK, but I love my home patch too much to be living away in a city. I mean, who doesn’t want to live ten minutes away from golden beaches? With the knowledge and equipment I’d acquired in the five years working, I thought I would give photography a go. It was a real struggle for the first three years until I would say it turned into a ‘job’. I have been full time now for nine years and am proud to have started from relatively nothing. I am quite thankful for the other job ending - I do sometimes wonder what I would be doing now otherwise. 

Q) Your latest book, Photographing South Wales (published by fotoVue: ISBN 978-0992905187) is a fantastic read. How long did it take you to compile such detailed information and capture so many stunning accompanying images?  

DB) Thanks very much! That book has undoubtedly been my biggest achievement and project to date. All in all, it’s around four years work - mostly trying to plan, not only what locations to feature, but also when to visit them to achieve the absolute ‘best’ image. Be it, snowy scenes or floral filled woods, most locations took many visits to get shots I was happy with, some included spur of the moment trips to make the most of weather conditions; like doing a 200 mile round trip at 3am, climbing to the top of Pen y Fan (886m) through the snow for sunrise at the top. An absolutely magical experience, but without having this project in mind and an end goal to capture certain images, I may have missed the chance to take these opportunistic moments. The writing was no mean task too, over 90,000 words in the end, most of which were written when I’m most productive, at stupid o’clock in the morning – I blame my college days for that! The journey over this time has made me fall even more in love with my home country and showcases the diversity South Wales offers everyone throughout the year. 

Q) If book writing isn’t tiring enough, you’ve recently become a dad! Congratulations. Has fatherhood changed your outlook or the way you work at all?

DB) Thank you, and yes for sure. The last year with my daughter has been magical. Now fourteen months old, she’s started walking around, pointing at things, saying words, every day she’s getting busier and busier, such a happy little soul. Being self-employed, is a real privilege and I get to spend a lot of time with her at home, including a few days a week of ‘daddy daycare’ when my partner is in work. It just means I fit work around her now, and it’s working well. Who doesn’t want to play with Duplo and watch Hey Duggee all day?  

Q) Your first Dawn 2 Dusk Photography Workshop will be in Pembrokeshire this September, when you will be guiding participants to some of your favourite viewpoints. Tell us what is so special about this stretch of Welsh coast?

DB) I'm really ooking forward to it and excited to show off my local patch. Us locals have always known it is a special place and over the years I’ve noticed more and more visitors to the area in the summer months. It’s the only designated coastal national park in the UK and if I had to compare it, I would say it’s probably most like Cornwall, but on a smaller scale and less busy. Geographically they’re not that far apart, same weather patterns and sea conditions. Pembrokeshire is rugged and hilly on the north coast with more serene sandy bays to the south, lots of lighthouses and castles, all with ever changing weather. We do have our world-famous coast footpath which navigates the entire 186 miles of the coastline, so there’s a wealth of photographic possibilities and compositions on offer.

Q) What is the best thing about leading a workshop?

DB) Meeting likeminded photography enthusiasts. I could talk about cameras, techniques, filters and settings until the cows come home so it’s good when the person you’re talking to doesn’t want to nod off, or walk away! Most of all, helping inspire others to try new ideas, or see the landscape in a different way. 

Q) And the worst?

DB) Working out what to do if the weather’s bad. Endless days of torrential rain and wind isn’t productive for touring around. Usually though, either side of the weather is where you get magic moments of light or clouds, especially here on the coast, so sometimes you must be out in it to capitalise on the conditions. 

Q) You can pick anywhere in the World to photograph – where would it be and why?

DB) Tough question. It's funny, I've never been that hung up on travelling to exotic places. I've always been much more interested in the UK and if pushed, northern Europe. Northern America / Alaska looks beautiful, especially if coupled with some wildlife photography too. With the little one now, I’m not sure I could cope with weeks away from her. We travel to Scotland most years which I know well, the Lakes too; but to be honest there's still plenty of places to explore on the doorstep in the UK to keep me busy. In the right conditions with good light, I’d be happy anywhere. 

Q) You’ve picked-up a number of awards for your photography over the past few years. Is there a key to capturing an award-winning image?

DB) Photography competitions are always such a subjective topic. It’s literally down to the judge on the day whether you are lucky enough to be picked. You only need to see the sheer quality of some of the shortlists to see how much of a hard task it must be to judge. So far most of my competition appearances have always been ‘the bridesmaid and not the bride’ – yet to take any category or overall wins, but I’ll keep entering them as year on year it’s incredibly enjoyable to see what images are featured. Also, I think it’s a good way of pushing yourself more. Being self-employed it’s quite a lonely existence so entering competitions to pit your ideas against others is very constructive, even if the images get nowhere. For me, it does make me think a lot more about my images and how could I photograph something differently, or in a way that’s new. No easy feat, but it’s fun trying! 

Q) Away from photography, what does Drew Buckley do to relax? What would be your perfect day?

DB) I’ve always been a pretty relaxed person (I blame Pembrokeshire, it’s very laid back here!) so most days, when I’m at home with the family and out on a dog walk, are my perfect days. I don’t think I can ever truly switch off from photography, though. Always one eye on the sky, seeing what the weather’s doing, thinking where I can go to shoot or browsing through the maps, planning ahead for new locations to cover. That’s the beauty of having your hobby as your job I guess, it’s a lot of work, probably more hours than I ever did before, but always a pleasure and never a chore.

To learn more about Drew, and view the workshops he is leading, visit: Tutors