“The feeling itself, it’s pure euphoria. It’s like a high, it’s an addiction to me effectively.”
Photographer Harry Wheeler-Brand has good reason to celebrate his 18th birthday – after three years as a professional landscape photographer he has produced his first book with the aim of encouraging people to visit the “paradise” of East Anglia.
“It’s a brilliant place – endless coast, beautiful shingle beaches, the Norfolk Broads filled with odd windmills and windy pumps, all the inland landscapes – it’s just so special,” he said.
Mr Wheeler-Brand has almost 20,000 followers on his “harrybehindthelens” account on Instagram for “out of the camera” images which he says have not been re-touched or manipulated by computer photo software.
He first picked a camera up aged 12, sold his first image for £40 when he was 15 and, inspired by his parents who both had their own business, quickly turned his passion into a fledgling career.
“I spent, I don’t know how many, hundreds of pounds that I’d saved up on getting a camera when I was 15 and thought ‘why not make a print’,” Mr Wheeler-Brand, who lives in Suffolk, said.
“It sold so I thought ‘why not make another five prints’ and all of those sold for £40. So I thought ‘I can make some money from this’ and from then on pushed all my free time into the business.”
As soon as Mr Wheeler-Brand left school photography became his life and work. “I’ve just got a passion for it and my small business turned into this full-time thing which I now do 24/7, but I can’t complain because I love it.”
He has been shortlisted as a finalist in the forthcoming Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020, and said his success was down to “being very specific with my images” and a lot of planning.
One shot can be four months in the planning.
“I wanted to feature the East Anglian landscape because it’s just so special and I turned my photographs into a guidebook because I want to encourage more people to visit,” he said.
“I don’t visit a place and take a photo – I’ll always go there once or twice to plan out the image and then wait for the perfect time.”
“I’ve always loved the last minutes in a day when the light hits the landscape to get that perfect image for just a split second.
“It’s literally that rush when you’re there with your camera – just you, no-one else and you get that image that’s never gonna happen again. So I always value every single image I get because it’s unique.”
“Why do I do it?
“I guess I love that thrill and meeting people with the same driven passion for photography. If the weather lines up correctly, you’ve got this golden light coming through – it’s like complete euphoria.
“You have this big thrill rushing through like adrenaline and you’re snapping away these images every couple of seconds, trying to get the perfect one and then when you get the perfect one you’re thinking ‘Wow, that was a rush’.”