Change the scenery: interview with Jack Buchanan Hague
Landscape photographers create access points to places around the world we’d otherwise never see, Jack Buchanan Hague, a Sheffield-based photographer, offers a balance of captivating shots: piano players in front of breathtaking mountain scenery versus shots of lemurs so close to the brink of extinction that their image is a profoundly sobering achievement. We caught up with Jack to ask him about his motivations, his techniques and his upcoming plans for the New Year.
Your latest trip to New Zealand looked incredible. How do you choose the destinations you photograph and what were your highlights from this excursion?
When you’re choosing what to photograph, you want to get as many epic shots in as you possibly can. You want everything right there in front of you, and New Zealand is great for that: rolling green hills in the north and stunning white tipped peaks in the southern islands, huge waterfalls, rainforests, dry forests – everything you could want from a landscape.
Your photographs seem to be about more than just capturing a stunning aesthetic
It’s nice to be able to go to these places and photograph stunning scenery, but I feel a personal obligation to spread awareness and you can’t always do that by taking photos of a landscape. Like, for example, some of the work I did in Madagascar allowed me to take in the beauty of the forests there and allowed me to see Madagascan lemur in their natural habitat. But then you take a drone up in the air and you see how little of the forests are left and that’s the message, right there.
"Being a photographer can get you in to some tricky positions when trying to get the right angle for the perfect shot.
Having the reinforced knees and seat on my trousers allowed me to kneel and sit on any terrain
without damaging myself or my clothing."
Was that your original intention when you set out to be a photographer – to spread awareness?
When I was growing up, I said I wanted to study zoology. I’ve always had an interest in wildlife and conservation, thanks to my parents who made them both a big part of my life. But when I was 10 or 11, I picked up one of my dad’s old cameras and realised that I also had an affinity for capturing a moment. When it came time to pick what I wanted to do at university, I wanted to combine both of my passions in one.
Speaking to Tom Kahler in our last interview, he told us that seeing photos on social media encourages him to go to those places and see them from a completely different angle. A recurring hashtag on your social media is #forgeyourownpath. How important is self-reliance to you in your craft?
I agree with Tom. When you go on Instagram and see all these fantastic places, a part of you will naturally be inspired. But you do see a lot of photographers taking the same photo and not really looking at things in a different kind of way. Part of being a photographer is understanding that it’s essential to create a perspective, even if it is a popular location. And it’s equally as important to introduce your followers to new experiences. That’s why I embraced the opportunity to take pictures in the heart of Madagascar. Going there was a privilege that not many people get and I wanted to make sure that I was sharing it with others as much as possible.
"The South Island’s west coast is one of the wettest places on earth, so the BR1 Inshore Jacket
was a life saver when sailing under the waterfalls of the Milford Sound Fiord”
You’ve seen some pretty amazing things. What’s the best, to date?
On a helicopter ride to Mount Cook, we flew around the peak and stood on the top of Fox Glacier. It was quite early on in the morning, so the light was beautiful, the weather conditions had been bad up until that point, but on the day of the ride, they were the best they’d been for a week - it felt like everything just came together. Seeing such natural beauty from that height and stepping foot on that glacier was just the most incredible feeling, it makes you feel honoured. Especially at the rate that these glaciers are depleting and falling back… it’s something that in 20-30 years may not exist.
"My Merino thermals were like a second skin when exploring the beautiful mountains of the South Island,
especially when we flew over Mount Cook and took a stroll along the top of Fox Glacier."
So what country’s next on the cards?
I’m interested in doing more around the Polar Regions, Norway’s Svalbard has also been on my radar for years and years. I was speaking to Tom [Kahler] about that the other day, so this might be a trip we do together. And also with the conservation work, I’d love to film a documentary in Borneo around palm oil and orangutans.
Good luck with those trips, we hope you’ll come to us keep you protected in those freezing conditions! Before you go, have you got any words of wisdom for beginners?
Always have a camera on you. It’s very easy nowadays with platforms like Instagram to constantly compare your work, but at the end of the day, it’s just a way of showing off your work and your style, so keep a camera in your hand, keep shooting and keep posting – persevere, and you’re bound to get noticed. A second tip is to always have the right kit.