Short exposure Mark Helliwell

Image above: Fisherman on Ladybower © Mark Helliwell

Mark Helliwell specialises in photographing waterside locations – be it coastal, lakeland, manmade or riverside – but recently he’s been drawn more and more to the urban landscape. He shares this change in creative direction and some favourite pictures from his portfolio.  

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.

Mark Helliwell: Hello! I set up Mark Helliwell Photography a couple of years ago after a long career in pharmacy and medical communications. Much of my photography is done close to water – from coastal locations to inland lakes and city canals. I think there’s something magical in capturing reflections in water.

Image above: Ladybower plug hole © Mark Helliwell

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

MH: I’m fortunate to be able to go out locally every week, and try to go a little further afield once a month. My favourite locations are the Peak District – particularly around Castleton – the Ladybower and Derwent reservoirs, and the Wirral coastline.

OP: What are you working on at the moment? 

MH: At the end of last year I set myself a goal to try and photograph the whole of Cheshire, from Macclesfield Forest in the east (close to where I live) to Chester in the west. I’ve made some progress but I’m finding the amount of travel time a bit frustrating.

OP: Where do you find your inspiration?

MH: I follow a few landscape photographers on social media, and try to go on a workshop once a year. I’m also drawn to strong geometric shapes and symmetry, and so love urban landscape photography. 

Image above: Salford Quays © Mark Helliwell

OP: What’s your dream photography project?

MH: I’ve done very little photography in Scotland. Later this year some friends will be walking the West Highland Way from Glasgow to Fort William, which has inspired me to start thinking about potential viewpoints along the route – I do love the planning side of photography.

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

MH: Patience. I’m very quick to pack up and head back to the car thinking nothing much will happen with the light, only to find the most wonderful sunrise or sunset as I drive away.

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

MH: I’m starting to see a lot more images of trees and woodland, many taken at long focal lengths to isolate shapes and detail, or taken using intentional camera movement or multiple exposures. I do admire – and am envious of – photographers who are able to find simplicity in the chaos of woodlands.

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

MH: I don’t have any real plans, other than to think more about exhibiting my work. I’m starting to build up quite a large portfolio of urban landscape images taken in London and would love to explore commercial opportunities there.

Image above: Perch Rock Lighthouse © Mark Helliwell