Friday, November 02, 2012

Lasting beauty and serious purpose in landscape photography

I reckon Craig Potton is a marvellous photographer and the eponymous publishing house he founded is an outstanding publisher especially (but not only) of highly illustrated New Zealand non-fiction.

2012 is a landmark year for Craig who is one of our best known landscape photographers. He turns 60 this year and the publishing company he founded also has a significant anniversary – Craig Potton Publishing is turning 25. As part of the celebrations a beautiful new book containing some of his most popular landscape photographs, as well as his own favourites, has just been released.

Craig describes himself as a conservationist first and a photographer second but his skill in
both areas has grown hand in hand. As a first-year student at the University of Canterbury, Craig helped form the Beech Forest Action Committee together with some flatmates. Their purpose was to prevent 600,000 hectares of native forest on the West Coast of the South Island from being clear-felled for pulp and replaced with pine trees. 

Craig (above) soon realised ‘How do you tell people in Auckland how good the West Coast forests are? You show them photographs!’ And that, in a nutshell, is what Craig’s conservation and photographic work has always been about – capturing images of the natural environment and putting them into the hands of people who can’t help but respond by wanting to protect it. 
‘The more people that love the natural landscape, the more hopeful its future will be,’ says Craig.
The first annual calendar of his photographs was produced as a fundraiser for The Native Forests Action Council. His first book of landscape photography came about because he was writing, illustrating and designing four guide books on the national parks when a body of his images couldn’t be used. ‘I ended up with a whole lot of good photographs of an area that we were trying to save, so I published them.’ Images from a Limestone Landscape: A Journey into the Punakaiki-Paparoa Region went on to become a finalist in the national book awards. ‘I basically formed a company so that I could keep a handle on that book, that’s where Craig Potton  Publishing started from’ says Craig.

Some shots below to give you a feel for the book. It is a knockout and I reckon many copies will find their way overseas as Christmas gifts to ex-pat Kiwis. Bound to make them feel homesick.

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