Photographers’ Gallery (5): David Clapp


David Clapp is a British photographer. On his website he presents his philosophy: “My photographic interest surfaced in 2002 when a change of career (from the incredibly dull world of water engineering to the incredible fulfilling world of teaching guitar) gave me fresh perspective and belief that there was some good left in my world. I could actually have a career doing something I enjoyed instead of designing more elaborate ways of skiving off. I always believed music would save me, and it did, but not in the star struck way I once anticipated. So I hung up my headphones and ventured outside. With my hobby becoming full time work, I bought an old Canon T90, the camera I remember from my teens that my uncle wanted. I rapidly collected a bag of iron primes and lugged them all over the Devon countryside, believing images would fall at my feet….naturally it was a total disaster. In the winter of late 2005 with less that 20 good images, I sold a kidney on Ebay and took a large financial risk, buying a Canon 5D… which I trashed it in a river in Scotland six days after I bought it. Thankfully reaching 34 had drummed in a few sensibilities like buying insurance, but I swiftly realised that if I was to pursue such an expensive hobby, just like my lust for other peoples hifi and vintage guitars had taught me in previous years, I had to make money out of it.

My first break came when in June 2006 Digital Camera published some shots I took from a February trip to Valencia and I was delighted. Then three months later I had a portfolio printed in Outdoor Photographer, then Digital Photo, then Digital Camera. For the first time in my creative life I thought might be on to something. And so began the relentless head banging that is marketing. Every knock back made me seething with a mixture of jealousy, self loathing and doubt, but wonderful quotes from lyrics and films (“I’m wanna mean it from the back of my broken hand” for example) drove me onwards and do to this day. Posting images on forums gave me some necessary opinions about my work, something in the lonely world of photography that is very necessary. Communities like, and help to retain focus in dry times, but the acceptance by Oxford Scientific Films as a contributing photographer in summer 2006, my first agency contract, confirmed that others saw some commercial potential. So I began knocking doors and when they didn’t answer I knocked and banged again and again and again. Riding the agency wave I felt more confident in myself and my work….the glass was most definitely half full, and so began the hardest work I have ever subjected myself to.

Two years later I can barely believe what has happened. I now contribute and sell work through seven agencies, I regularly contribute work to photography magazines and write regular features for the wonderful magazine Digital Photographer who have taken me on as one of the team, an accolade that makes me very proud to say the least. I was also a finalist in the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2007 competition and although I didnt win anything the lift in profile I attained was immense. I had six images in the associated book, including images displayed in the National Theatre in London. If I am not shooting landscapes and seascapes here in the UK, I am thinking about it. If its not the UK then I travel the world as often as I can with my understanding partner Rachel, in search of historical, travel and architectural subjects. She calls photography ‘geeking’ and how right she is. With a head full of apertures, focal lengths, pixels and other nonsensical gibberish to bore her with in airports; after early dawn shoots to coming home from the moors at three in the morning to a hallway full of tripods and camera bags to trip over, this surely must be love. I still teach guitar, and probably always will as one thing in life I have learned is that life all about balance.