Photographer David Hawtin a Personal Statement

Exmoor photographer David
Exmoor photographer David on location in Ilfracombe

I find many things and many locations inspire me as a photographer, some photos I have planned, and some have just jumped out at me, the good thing is one can always recognise a good location and return at the right time.

Living on Exmoor

I have lived on Exmoor for eight years and am beginning to find my way around.  As a photographer I find it is much more than just taking pictures.  For me I find I am learning about light and the changing seasons.

George Eastman said

Light makes photography.  Embrace light.  Admire it.  Love it.  But above all, know light.  Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.

Living on a north coast means many coastal locations are in shadow, cut off from light by the big coastal hills for much of the year.   It is not just a case of turning up for a sunset as it may not be there, so I have to understand where the sun will be at any given time of the year and the day and how that will impact the photo.

Weather and it’s impact on photography

As a photographer here on Exmoor, if not everywhere, I find photography is about the weather, the weather has a dramatic effect on landscape photographs and as with the light the location may be good but the conditions just don’t do it at that time.  So behind every photo is a process of learning about the prevailing conditions and how that will impact the location and if necessary choosing another location or day.

As a photographer I am learning about the plants on Exmoor.  These make a tremendous difference, the bright purples of heather are beautiful in the summer, but the plants through winter months are like blotting paper, soaking up light.  Whereas, I have found that bracken which becomes brown in autumn comes to life as a rich red brown in the golden hours of the day.

I guess that if I were here for my entire life I might just get the hang of this, in the meantime I will continue to look and learn.

Artistic influence

One of the first things people ask is what sort of camera I have, well it is not the most expensive, although I have spent a fortune on lenses, the answer is that at this time it is adequate, although I am taking note of the limitations and restrictions when I am taking photos and will address this in due course, by far the more important aspect is learning to see, for this I am very blessed to have Melody, she sees things very differently seeing as a painter, she loves colour and composition and is always a good source of critique and encouragement, to spend a day with her opens ones eyes to the surroundings.

Melody describes my photos as being Baroque in style, using light and dark in images.  I have to agree that I am influenced by artist’s such as Caravaggio, His use of light and dark is stunning, particularly for me his painting of the last supper.

I like to think of myself as an encourager, I have thought about this lately and actually find I like to encourage people on many levels but specifically in this context with photography.  We have all started somewhere and I have found that life is a journey, I did not expect to be a photographer when I bought my first SLR, it was just a hobby, the journey of life gave me opportunities and difficulties that has brought me to this place and opened the doors for me to pursue this art form.  So if you come into our gallery and find me sitting there please feel free to ask or talk or comment, I believe we all have talents I believe they are gifts, for some that will be of a much higher standard than me and for others a bit less, but if we all enjoy what we do and reach our potential then we can be satisfied and if, as is the case for me, one is able to bless others by providing photographs for their walls then one has been truly blessed.

For the finished print I use Fine Art paper, this works so well enhancing the photo and with the fine texture of the paper gives an artistic look, I also use Fine Art canvas for pictures on deep stretcher bars.

I have always done my own printing, both for my photographs and for Melody’s paintings.  I find the photographs much more difficult than the paintings, with the paintings there is an end result to get the print to match as closely as possible the original.  Photographs are far more subjective and there are so many techniques one can apply.

In general I try to take the photo of what I see, for this I use various filters to balance different areas of light and dark, in practise I often take photos in difficult light conditions and will have to make some adjustments in Photoshop.

Having started in a darkroom with black and white techniques I find I keep mainly to the same practice.  I like to produce the photo within the camera, it has to be good in the first place.  For me Photoshop techniques are to obtain the best result on paper, that is keeping to the original idea of photography.  Starting with a correctly exposed negative, followed by the interpretation onto photo paper.

From a photographic point of view this is a stunning area; dramatic coastline, the colours and landscape of Exmoor National Park, seaside resorts with Victorian architecture, steam trains, and many events as can be glimpsed on our event page.  All of these make for an inspirational location and a photographic challenge.’  Further afield we live in the South West of England where we have dramatic rocky coastline of Cornwall and the more rugged moors of Bodmin and Dartmoor and the famed light of St Ives in Cornwall, although I believe the light on Exmoor to be equally stunning offering a softer and much wider colour range than the strong light of St Ives.

I have been thinking more about the artistic side of my photography of late and am thinking of two projects that have been of interest to me for many years, so at some point I may well add pages for roofs and doors that I come across, here just within Porlock, where we live, we have some lovely slate roofs that catch different types of light during the day and the differing weather conditions along with many interesting and elaborate thatched roofs and doors that must date back several hundred years.


In my late teens, many years ago, I bought my first SLR and joined a photographic club and was introduced to darkroom techniques.

During my twenties I started a career as a telecomms engineer and have during that time installed and removed many technologies ending my career as Engineering Manager responsible for a UK based national network.

Continued photography as a hobby.

2008 – Commissioned to take advertising photos for a data centre, basically a place where companies put lots of computer equipment.

2009 – Joint photographic exhibition at Malthouse Gallery in Alresford.

2010 – Move to Exmoor to open a gallery to represent my wife’s paintings and my photography.

2011 – Photograph ‘Reach for the Sky’ featured in The Fine Art Trade Guild magazine as the editors choice.

September 2013 – Western Daily Press featured an article on Melody and myself in their new Saturday colour magazine, the magazine featured the photograph ‘Red Soil in the Sunset’ on the front cover.

March 2014 – Art For Life have chosen 4 of my photographs of the Somerset Coast from an entry of 5 to be on permanent exhibition in Musgrove Park Hospital.

October 2014 –  Joint exhibition with Melody in the Salthouse Gallery in St Ives.