PATRICK TILLARD

“Nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future… The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
– Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

Patrick is a photojournalist and filmmaker, with a focus on telling stories of adventure, travel, culture and craft. His work has appeared in a number of international publications, such as Africa Geographic, Vogue, Lonely Planet and Gentleman’s Journal. He is happiest when deep in the mountains, ideally with a camera in one hand and a fishing rod in the other.

For Patrick, photography is an escapism and fuels exploration beyond the obvious. He tries to find people who live quiet but interesting lives. Not necessarily interesting to them, but interesting to others, as these people open a door to a craft or adventure that you would otherwise never have known about. This takes time – you have to do your research, ask around, bounce off dead-ends and start again. But, he believes, it’s worth the effort. He aspires to come close to the likes of Pie Aerts, Ragnar Axellson and Frederic Lagrange; people who have a way of capturing moments in time and telling stories for those without a voice.


When was your first memory of taking a photography?

I started on a small Olympus film camera when I was around 12 years old. I loved the whole process – the delicacy of the film and the not knowing whether the photos were going to be any good until you had them printed. I kept photo albums religiously. By my late teens – having upgraded to a small digital Canon – I never went anywhere without my camera, capturing moments from every walk, adventure and gathering.

What is photography for you?

Photography gives me cause to explore beyond the obvious; it encourages me to look closer; to find something of interest in every occasion.

With your photography, do you like to capture a set that brings a place or adventure together, that narrates a moment ?

I’ve never been about trying to capture one, stand-out photo. For starters, I’m not good enough for it – I bow to those who have the ability to freeze a moment that commands attention in its own right. I aim to tell a story through a series of images: a story of a landscape; the people who work it; the traditions that have been practiced for years; the wildlife that fills the hills and skies.

Would you say even a couple of pictures can tell a whole story, bring the viewer to go into an imaginative mind and dream of a whole different world than his present one?

I believe it can – a few pictures have the power to capture the story of a long journey. You can evoke an array of emotions and capture the essence of a place with a few photos. It forces you to consider every element you experience.

Have you got a dream country, landscape, continent, people and/or culture, you would like to spend more time exploring and photographing?

The Scottish Highlands hold a special place in my heart. The wilderness, the wildlife, the humbling solitude… it sooths, calms, excites and lingers. Time slows down. Stuff makes sense there. There are so many stories to be told – more than I can fit into my lifetime. But I will try hard to. Further afield, Zimbabwe is my unreachable itch – I yearn to return.

You like accompanying your pictures with narrative, words and stories. What do you think it adds to the photography?

Perspective. Moments don’t just happen. Sure, sometimes you get a great shot from a chance encounter, but more often than not you wait for the right light, you spend hours with someone to capture a portrait, and watch wildlife closely to be at the right place at the right time. Behind a photo is a story of effort and perseverance.

You are a photojournalist having worked for various magazines, would you say your photos accompany your text or it is the text that is accompanying the photos?

I believe they have equal weight within a story – side-by-side you can fill the gaps, connect the dots and capture any adventure, culture or occasion.

What was your most memorable moment in taking photography and discovering and story-telling? 


This changes constantly. Given the rush with which we whisk through modern-day life, any chance to slow it all down – with or without the camera – is to be cherished. The most recent occasion that springs to mind was a sunset during the first UK lockdown – I’m not a religious man, but I can close that day as I watched the clouds catch fire overhead.

I love your detailed picture, sometimes you just focus on one small things and yet it can become it is own picture in its own right. Would you agree?

Absolutely, the intricacies can be as captivating as the longest vistas. The closer you look, the more you see.

Is there something meaningful to you you brought from one of your trips to Africa where you love exploring and photographing?

A small population of Afar peoples live on a rugged island lapped by emerald seas in the Dahlak peninsula off Eritrea. Not many people venture this way. After an hour in their company I parted with a smooth twisted shell, picked by a member of the community. It's a simple reminder of a simple and beautiful existence many miles away.