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Photography SpotlightKaty Livesey

By Leanne Downs29 March 2020

Our Photographer Spotlight series aims to showcase the work of photographers who capture the UK landscape in a way which shows its beauty and diversity. In this interview, we chat to writer, Instagrammer, photographer and Thryve team member, Katy Livesey.

Hey! I’m Katy, and I’m a writer and photographer from Lancashire in north-west England. I write for outdoor blogs and publications, as well as working on my novels. Getting creative with words and imagery is my ultimate passion, and I find much of my creative writing grows directly from the mood of an image or an aesthetic.

I’ve just returned from a break in the flow of life; working as a dog-sledding guide and dog handler with my boyfriend in Tromsø, northern Norway. As you can imagine, this has provided me with ample amounts of photographic and writing inspiration!

I love creating a whimsical, nature-focused photograph; a sort of natural fairy tale

How did you get into photography?

I’ve always loved taking photos. When I was tiny, my parents always trusted me with the family camera because even as a toddler, I was still able to frame shots without wonky horizons! My actual interest in photography and telling stories through imagery grew through Instagram. I started sharing the things I loved and was interested in on my Instagram page @katy_who, but I was only shooting on my smart photo and using VSCO filters. As my love for capturing images grew, so did my need for a better medium to capture my imagination. I invested in my first camera two years ago, and I’m still using it now, and it’s the best investment I’ve ever made.

What style/feeling do you try and create with your images?

I love creating a whimsical, nature-focused photograph; a sort of natural fairy tale. I’m not overly interested in heavily edited or photoshopped “fairy tale” imagery (although I love many creators who produce art like that!), I’m more interested in creating the idea of a fairy tale or a piece of folklore through a simple image or self-portrait. The more magic it feels, the happier I am with the finished piece.

The more magic an image feels, the happier I am with it

What equipment do you use?

I shoot on a Canon 750D, and the lenses I mainly use are Canon 24mm f/2.8, Canon 50mm f/1.8 and Canon 24-104mm f/4.

Can you show us your favourite photograph that you have taken in the UK and tell us a little bit about why you love it?

My favourite photo is this blue-toned shot from very early morning on the shores of Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms National Park. Arron and I awoke early, and he headed outside to collect some snow for water for our morning van-coffee, and I heard him exclaim that I needed to get dressed and come outside really quickly. I shot out of the door and was treated to this beautifully still icescape, and it almost seemed unfathomable that it was real and we saw it with our own eyes. A favourite photo and a favourite memory!

A shot from the shores of Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms National Park

Are there any other photographers who you admire or who have influenced your work?

There are a few! I mainly find inspiration for shoots on Pinterest or my Instagram feed, and I’m hugely inspired by Rosie Hardy, Jonna Jinton, Camilla Jørvad and I also love the moods created by wedding photographers Salt & Sea co. And The Caryls. If this counts, I’m also really inspired by illustrators and artists, as they can capture a different sense of whimsy that is lovely to try and emulate through photography. Some of my favourites are Taryn Knight, Ulla Thynell, Mori Raito and Annie Stegg.

What’s your favourite place in the UK to shoot?

My favourite place in the world generally is the Highlands of Scotland, and that’s my favourite place to shoot too. I’ve never taken my camera to the Isle of Skye. Still, I would love to revisit it with a proper camera set up and reshoot some of the images I captured there a few years ago, as there is such a specific, haunting mood to be found on the island. I also love Glen Coe and Glen Etive, and the wild northern coast. Aside from Scotland, I enjoy the almost-bleak, moorland landscapes of Yorkshire and Derbyshire and my home in Lancashire. That gritty northern stone with the endless rolling heather and bracken makes my heartache (and also brings out my inner Bronte heroine!).

I notice far more now, like the details in the bark of a tree or the tiny, barely-opened buds of spring blooms

Have you always had an interest in the outdoors? Where did it start?

I’ve always loved nature and the restorative power of the outdoors. Even just heading out for the post-Sunday lunch dog walk completely revives me after a busy week. However, upon meeting my partner Arron, an outdoor instructor, a couple of years ago, my interest in the outdoors has grown into more of a need. He taught me that there’s far more to do outside than just meander (although I’m still a big fan of meandering!). I need to spend time outdoors every day; I need to be active in the landscape; I notice far more now, like the details in the bark of a tree or the tiny, barely-opened buds of spring blooms. Being present in the outdoors has grown my photography into a passion now too, as I’m always eager to capture the details I see.

I’ve always loved nature and the restorative power of the outdoors. Even just heading out for the post-Sunday lunch dog walk completely revives me after a busy week

Do you take part in any outdoor activities regularly?

Yes, quite a few! My boyfriend has quite a lot of outdoor gear from his past ten years as an instructor, so we’re lucky enough to be able to go out and get involved in lots of things. Currently, I’m loving improving my skills in trad climbing and soloing a canoe, I recently started learning to cross-country ski, and I’m excited to get back into sea kayaking and running when we’re back in the UK.

I’m more interested in creating the idea of a fairy tale or a piece of folklore through a simple image or self-portrait

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start photographing the outdoors?

Just head outside! It honestly doesn’t matter what equipment you have or what you’re shooting on, just get outside and try. Work out what makes your heart race and capture it in a way that you feel works for you. With photography, like with writing, I’d always recommend creating for yourself, first and foremost. When you start thinking about what others will think, or how it compares to someone’s photos that you love, the essence and soul of the picture will be lost. Create, write and photograph things that make you happy.

Is there anywhere in the UK you want to shoot but haven’t yet?

Like I mentioned earlier, I’d love to take the cameras back to the Isle of Skye! I have a thing for islands, so I’d also say I’d like to head to the Outer Hebrides to capture their windswept beaches and crystal waters. On that subject, Orkney and Shetland are also up there with places I’m super keen to go and shoot!

I love capturing the details I notice in nature

What do you love most about where you live?

My boyfriend and I do a lot of travelling in our van, but home is still currently Lancashire. I love the moors and the forests of home, and the endless rolling hills. We have some local lore, like the Pendle Witches, that add to the atmosphere of the place, and we also have the distant memory of the industrial revolution still echoing through our landscapes, with old mill buildings and worker’s cottages dotting the landscape. I feel like I have a real ancestral connection to my homeland, as my family name and origin can be traced back for hundreds of years. Also, we’ve barely moved a few miles in all of that time, so spending any time in the wilds of Lancashire always feels like the best kind of therapy.

 

To see more of Katy’s work, visit her website or follow her on Instagram.

Leanne Downs

About Leanne Downs

Leanne Downs is the content editor for Thryve and works as an outdoor writer, blogger and photographer. She loves hiking, hillwalking and wild camping.

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