Benedict Brain is a UK-based photographer, journalist and artist. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel. He is also a past editor of Digital Camera Magazine, and the author of You Will be Able to Take Great Photos by The End of This Book.
Believe it or not, this image was made in a car park, on the side of the A5 in north Wales, with Llyn Ogwen to my back and looking towards Glyder Fawr. I was en route to run a workshop for The Royal Photographic Society in and around Llyn Idwal, in the shadow of the Devil’s Kitchen. It’s one of my favourite parts of the world, and the perfect setting for a workshop called ‘A Sense of Place’.
I was running early, so I pulled over to finish my coffee, and to take a peaceful, solitary moment before the workshop began. The weather wasn’t looking great. While sipping my coffee and contemplating the wet day ahead, I noticed the rock you can see in this image. Its presence was so intense that I was compelled to grab my camera and start photographing. Its sheer volume and wetness resonated with the vibe of the wider area, and spoke to the sense of place I feel when I’m in the Welsh mountains.
By carefully selecting the right angle, I was able to arrange a composition that obscured any sign of the car park or the A5 beyond. The mist created a wonderful sense of depth and separation between the foreground and background.
The rock has a presence in the frame that echoes how it made me feel at the time. I enjoy the idea that it is composed to give the impression it could have been taken in the remote wilds during an epic adventure. Such deception. However, as humanity’s relationship with nature and the environment is a core theme that underpins much of my practice, I also made images that included the rock, the car park and the road. These are arguably more interesting images, albeit more bland aesthetically speaking.
Perhaps it’s odd, but I feel that the workshops could have been just as effectively run at this stop-off point – but then, who would want to attend a workshop in a car park?