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Salt Cellar Through A Pinhole by David Travis
CREDIT: David Travis

Committee Profile of David Travis ARPS, Circles Co-ordinator

RPS Landscape Group Newsletter, May 2023

Committee Profile David Travis ARPS 
RPS Landscape Group, Circles Co-ordinator

When did you first become interested in photography and how?

My dad had many side hustles, including wedding photographer. As a result there was various film developing paraphernalia in the house and at around 11 I started to get interested in taking and developing pictures. However, I was never very good at it. I could never remember what settings I’d used, so I never knew why some pictures worked and some didn’t. When digital cameras appeared, I could at last see instantly what the various camera settings did. That shallow, depth-of-field look that happened once by accident with my film camera? I could never work out how to recreate it with film but with digital I quickly learnt how my camera settings affected the final image. I was an early adopter of digital and have been a serious photographer ever since.

What does photography mean to you?

First, it’s a way for me to be creative. I’ve tried drawing and other creative pursuits but I’ve never been able to achieve the same level of mastery as I have with photography. And second, photography makes me notice things. Too often when out walking I find myself looking at my feet rather than the wider landscape. With a camera in my hand I ‘look’ differently: I notice things that I would normally ignore. Everything from the way the light falls on a landscape to the way a fissure in a rock seems to point to a hill in the distance. 

What do you most like to shoot?

There’s a quotation I like from Gerry Winogrand where he says, “I photograph to see what things look like photographed.” That’s me: I’ll photograph anything to see what it looks like. Natural history, studio portraits, sports, macro… I’m definitely not a genre specialist. But if I had to pick one genre, it would be landscape photography as that allows me to combine photography with hiking.


Lofoton dawn


How do you approach a shooting? Do you choose the location/subject in advance, or do you drive somewhere and start taking pictures?

I’ve certainly done both of those things. For example, I took a photography trip to Lofoten last month and I’m just about to head off to the Jurassic Coast. When I go somewhere new, I search out the honeypot locations since they generally offer the best return when you don’t have much time. But I also enjoy revisiting the same location and trying to see it differently. I’m lucky to live on the edge of the Peak District and there’s one location I’ve photographed dozens and dozens of times: The Roaches. In fact, I did my ARPS panel on it.

Are you a member of a camera club?

Yes, I’m a member of Leek Photographic Club and Rolls-Royce Derby Photographic Society. I know that people can be sniffy about camera clubs and camera club judges. But being a member of those clubs has really helped me up my photography game. I think it’s useful to hear someone provide detailed comments on your photographs, even if you don’t always like what they say. This is the same reason I worked towards my LRPS and ARPS distinctions. Hearing assessors evaluate my images provided a useful, critical, assessment of my photographs that you just don’t get with posts on Instagram.


Hoar frost, first light 


What is your favourite camera?

Let me be a bit contrary and say: my Harman Titan Pinhole Camera. This camera takes ‘manual mode’ to a whole new level. There’s no controls for shutter speed or aperture. The ISO is defined by whatever film you use. There’s not even a viewfinder. But the experience is so much fun. My ‘proper’ camera is an OM Systems OM1. In the past, I used a Canon 5D Mk 3 but I found the weight of my gear was discouraging me from taking my camera out on trips. These days, my rucksack of camera gear weighs not much more than my tripod!

What are you working on now

In the short term, I’m putting together an exhibition for my camera club at the Nicholson Gallery in Leek. This will showcase 60 images from 27 photographers. I’m enjoying exploring alternative ideas for the exhibition, such as supplementing each image with an audio narration from the photographer.  In the longer term, I’m creating a book with the working title of ‘Peak Seasons’ showing the Peak District throughout the year. I’m also working on a collection of pinhole images of canonical Peak District locations.


Header image: Salt Cellar through a pinhole

All images © David Travis ARPS



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