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Climbing photographer – Alex Ekins interview

Alex Ekins Interview

by Duncan Skelton on December 29, 2010

in photography

Alex Ekins, professional climbing photographer

After a 20-year career in rock climbing and mountaineering, Alex began developing his photography and studied photojournalism. He’s been a pro-photographer since 2006 and has developed a sensational client list.
Alex Ekins Photography and Photojournalism is based in the UK but works in any location. He is currently supported by Wild Country, Red Chili, Podsacs and Rab

What is your favourite/most iconic climbing shot?

John Cleare was and still is massively inspiring. His picture of Rusty Baillie on Cenotaph Corner in his seminal book Rock Climbers In Action In Snowdonia is particularly memorable. His compositions are always stunning, sometimes unusual but always massively effective

  • Rusty Baillie starting up Cenotaph Corner, Dinas Cromlech, Llanberis Pass.

    A mid-sequence shot of Rusty Baillie on Cenotaph Corner, Dinas Cromlech, Llanberis Pass.
    Reproduced by kind permission John Cleare
    © John Cleare/Mountain Camera Picture Library.

What has been your most rewarding climbing shoot and why?

Spending two days interviewing and photographing Alain Robert in Qatar was particularly entertaining. He wore leather trousers, cowboy boots and a medallion. It’s easy to forget amidst all the media attention he receives for climbing buildings, that in 1993 he was soloing 8b in the Verdon gorge.

What is currently your favourite bit of kit, and why?

I love my Canon 5d. It was the first digital camera I used that I felt could viably replace film. I’ve subjected it to a tremendous amount of abuse and it just keeps on working. I have recently been given a 1940’s Rolleiflex so it will be interesting to try and take some climbing pictures in the square 120 medium format. Also my Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket has become fairly essential.

What is your most used lens for climbing photography?

Canon 17-40L zoom, it’s very sharp and the zoom range works well when hanging on a rope close to a climber.

What route, location or climber would you most like to shoot?

Any of my friends on any big wall in Queen Maud Land.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone wanting to make more of their climbing photography?

All you need to do is to find a great route with a great line, a willing and able climber wearing bright clothes, be able to access the best position to take the photograph, use good composition and then pray for amazing light. Spend your money on the best lenses, all modern digital SLR’s have good sensors but you need great glass to realise their potential.

Many thanks to Alex for sharing his time with the Climbing Photography blog. We had the added bonus of meeting at Kendal this year for the John Cleare slideshow. Cheers Alex.

If you’d like to comment on this post, or share your own iconic climbing image please drop us a line below.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Andy Haynes December 30, 2010 at 12:53 am

Can’t believe I’ve only just found this site, and all the imagery here. There are some great shots, and some interesting points of view.


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