Q&A With Devon Photographer John Spurr

We here at the Two Moors Festival were perusing Twitter the other day and a beautiful photograph caught our eye of the sun setting over Saunton Sands. Taken by the very talented John Spurr, we wanted to find out more about the man behind the lens – and what we discovered was a true Devon fanatic who loves this part of the world just as much as we do, but who’s just so much better at capturing it on film than we are.

We caught up with him to find out just what it is about Devon that captures his imagination. Take a look at his photographs – we’re sure you’ll love them as much as we do.

2MF: Are you Devon born and bred?

JS: I grew up in Dorset, moving to North Devon with my parents in 1999 just as I finished school. Initially, in all honesty, I felt thoroughly annoyed at being uprooted to a rural village and landscape that made Dorset feel positively rushed. But as the months passed and I began to explore the area in between terms studying philosophy at university, I realised that Devon was a county with unique depth and beauty. Now my family live in Gloucestershire and I can’t be persuaded to leave Devon!

2MF: What appeals to you about this part of the world?

JS: It’s very quickly become something much deeper than a place to live. Being someone who likes to be outdoors, the Devon coast and its incredible surf to the north (especially in autumn) is a place for both adrenaline and reflection. As if that wasn’t enough, our two immensely varied and beautiful moors, changing dramatically in mood with the rhythmical rolling of the seasons, are an outdoor person’s dream, with or without a camera!

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2MF: If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

JS: I’ve seen some incredible places on my travels abroad and love exploring new places, but I can’t imagine living anywhere other than among Devon’s rolling hills, sparkling green woodlands in spring and year-round stunning coastline. Nothing comes close that feeling of surfing beyond sunset as the first stars shimmer above Saunton Sands.

2MF: What’s so good about photographing Devon?

JS: Devon is such a vibrant and varied county, and the people are usually very friendly. The colours of Exmoor are enchanting through the year and, actually, across the county over each hill there is something unique to tempt a photographer. Certainly, the undulating terrain creates endless composition ideas for landscape photography, and the wide variety of wildlife in such a small area like, for example Exmoor, is in itself quite unique.

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2MF: What are your favourite subjects?

JS: A tricky question to answer! I love being outdoors so anything connected to nature will always have a massive draw. Capturing images of wild animals in their natural environment is such a thrill – something I’m finding increasingly addictive! I’ve recently photographed some newborn children with their mothers. The experience was really moving and inspiring. I’d love to do more of that.

2MF: What photography hotspots would you recommend for people to take their cameras to?

JS: I’d certainly recommend anywhere on Exmoor, especially in spring – wonderful colours and wildlife and birds everywhere! In South Devon, the South West Coast Path is always a good place to have a camera to hand – mine is usually with me in the car anywhere I go in Devon. Clovelly is also a really lovely place to photograph.

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2MF: Any photography tips to help people get the perfect picture?

JS: My best tip to getting photographs you’ll want to keep is to wait for the right light. It’s best to forget about taking outdoor photographs of anything when the sun is high in the sky – the light around dawn and the hour before sunset is just magical.  Secondly, keep things simple – don’t try to have too much in the picture. Lastly, some of my favourite shots have been completely unplanned – don’t forget to look around you for other opportunities!
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John Spurr 9Have you got any photos of Devon you’ve taken and would like to share? We’d love to see them, so post them in the comments below.
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