Meet the Photographer - R. Alan Jones

(C) Frank Yates 2017. Cwmorthin Slate Quarry lower mill Pelton Wheel House (Former Wheelpit)When you’re a small child in North Wales who loves narrow gauge railways, you can hardly escape Slate quarries. They were full of them, so naturally I took an interest. I remember passing through Blaenau many times as a child, with it’s massive looming waste tips towering above the village, but the thing that really planted the seed was the Welsh Slate Museum, must have been about 1995. Walking through the Vivian quarry arch on a dark cloudy, slightly rainy day and being struck with the panorama of flooded quarry pit below with wagon hanging from a Blondin above hemmed in by impossibly steep rock walls.  That was it, I was hooked.

Things got better still when for a short period we lived in Nant Gwrtheyrn – my every free moment was spent exploring the Porth y Nant quarry on our doorstep, if only I’d had my camera on me back them! Truth is I was more interested in drawing back then, the move to photography came later, when I learnt to drive and set off across the country exploring bigger and better quarries.  You can thank Dave Sallery for that, acting as guide he showed me places I never knew existed, and remains that have now vanished forever, sadly these were the days when digital cameras were in their infancy and film was an expensive commodity, so many have gone unrecorded by me. Many more were lost to the Fotopic collapse, where I had stored many of my early digital shots.

At this time I was only dabbling in photography, Digital was just taking over and I was just out to record interesting bits of history, and my rambles around disused places. Photography as art hit after what seems like an age when I met my now ex-wife, between her and her father the photography bug was caught! Since then I’ve lost count of how many hours I’ve spent out with who knows how many different bits of camera equipment, learning, watching, waiting and repeating.

I cannot really pin myself down on what genre I shoot, I suppose I’m a documentary industrial landscape photographer, other times I’m a plain landscape shooter. Whatever I’m shooting I like to try and capture the sense of wonder I feel when viewing disused buildings, impressive engineering or simply stunning scenery. I am particularly drawn to patterns and textures in decay, and there is certainly no shortage of variety in that department when you visit the places I do. Since purchasing Alan Carr’s book ‘Dyffryn Nantlle – a Landscape of Neglect’ I’ve been hooked on Black & White photography. In an attempt to hone my eye for monochrome, in 2017 I shot no colour images at all – it was particularly rewarding. For 2018, I have returned to colour.

I am now embarking on the next phase of my journey. Since joining the family, I have taken on the challenge of product photography. Whilst very different from the dark and brooding landscapes I love, I am thoroughly enjoying crafting with artificial light. Who knows, some of that may even rub off into my personal work!