Short exposure: Helen Iles

Llyn Llydaw, Snowdon.jpg

Based in the Barmouth Gwynedd, Helen Iles is known for capturing the striking light that falls on Snowdonia’ mountainous scenery. She answers quick-fire questions for our short exposure series.

Outdoor Photography: Hello! First of all please introduce yourself: tell us the type of pictures you like to take and how you first got into photography.

Helen Iles: I'm lucky enough to live on the southern slopes of Snowdonia with my husband and two (nearly grown-up) kids. Living where I am, I can usually be found photographing up a mountain or close to the sea. I first discovered photography as a student and have dabbled ever since; I fell in love with the medium’s immediacy and its power to simplify a complicated scene.

OP: How often are you able to get out there and photograph, and is there a particular location you normally go to? 

HI: I never stop photographing. I take my camera everywhere as the light and the weather change so quickly here. I usually try to reserve two days a week for longer expeditions, which usually involves long hikes. If I know the snow is good in the Rhinogydd I'll prepare in advance to wild camp and be able to catch the first light (or a sunset) on Cadair Idris. The work I’m happiest with is that of my local area of Snowdonia (possibly as I know it so well) but also because I have an interest in the local legends and stories.

Llwybyr Adref - Pathway Home © Helen Iles

OP: What are you working on at the moment? 

HI: As well as my regular commercial canvases and prints (which fund my photography) I have several personal projects on-the-go, one of which is a series of aerial abstract images of Snowdonia showing the beauty of the world from above. 

OP: Where do you find your inspiration? 

HI: I find my inspiration in Mother Nature I love looking at other artists and photographers’ take on landscapes and waterscapes – such as Ellis O'Connor, Darren Ciolli-Leach, Claire Carter, Andy Lee and Bruce Percy. I’m constantly visiting galleries too as I love seeing images in print.

OP: What’s your dream photography project?

HI: Something related to travel and exploration that’s off the beaten track with a good dose of adrenaline – while I'm still reasonably fit and not too old! – and a good skyline. A project where I had unlimited time to get to know the landscape and where the rain and wind can be turned on and off to order would also be on my list.

OP: Is there one thing in particular you think would help you improve your photography?

HI: At this moment in time (it changes regularly) an extended workshop with Bruce Percy. I feel it would help my technique and clarify my own thoughts. 

Snowdon Sunset © Helen Iles

OP: What do you think is hot right now in the photography world? 

HI: There's intentional camera movement and long exposure in terms of techniques, and Iceland and Loften are popular locations at the moment too, but I think it's a great time to be a female photographer. There are so many women photographers exhibiting and producing some incredible stand-alone work at the moment. 

OP: Where do you see your photography in five years time?

HI: Eight years ago I set myself the goal of selling a single image and since   achieving that goal I've set small aims and ticked them off one by one. Having just done my first combined exhibition, The Light and Dark of Wales, with Kris Williams, I'd really like to do another – perhaps with the Ariel Photography project. I also want to produce a small book and write more. Whether I’ll achieve these goals in five years time who knows, but I’ll be quietly working towards them.

Dawn Mawddach Mist © Helen Iles

See more of Helen’s work at
Follow her on Twitter @helen_iles