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Alex Messenger climbing photographer

Alex Messenger Interview

by Duncan Skelton on December 12, 2010

in photography

Alex Messenger, climbing photographer.

Alex Messenger is based in Manchester – where he works as the editor of the BMC’s Summit magazine – and is often out in the nearby Peak District stalking climbers. See his website www.alexmessenger.co.uk. He is also an experienced wedding photographer and is now taking bookings for 2011.

What is your favourite/most iconic climbing shot?

Tricky. There are so many fantastic shots out there, but for something to be iconic I guess it’ll have to have stood the test of time. Leo Dickonson’s Dream of White horses shot is an obvious one, and a few of John Cleare’s shots really stand out.

For a fave of my own, that shot of someone taking the Gaia fall is quite cool – mainly because it dates from the days of film (remember that?) and I think I pressed the shutter by accident as I half-dropped the camera.

  • First
    Ed Drummond & Dave Pearce pioneering A Dream of White Horses, Craig Gogarth, 1968.
    Reproduced by kind permission, and strictly copyright © Leo Dickinson, 1968.

What has been your most rewarding climbing shoot an why?

Not really a shoot, but I went to Bishop in 2004 with a super-strong, super-psyched team (James Pearson, Ryan Pasquill, Chris Doyle, Si Moore amongst many others). I don’t know what was more fun – taking shots in Bishop or just crusing around in the convertible. Good times.

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

My Voice Activated Lightstand. For remote flash lighting, you give your flash (and £50) to someone and control them with your voice. Magic.

What is your most used lens for climbing photography?

I totally over-use my 80-200mm 2.8. It’s a classic Nikon lens and mine’s getting so battered now, but I can’t face binning it – it’s seen too much.

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

I’m not too bothered about the route or climber. It’s all about the light and shapes. If you can make a ginger lad look good at Stoney, then you’ve cracked it. But if someone gave me £10,000 for a shoot then, yeah, I’d be straight off to Thailand with a longtail boat full of models. And maybe some climbers too.

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

Don’t bother taking photos unless the light is right – go climbing instead. And do some wedding photography – it makes everything else seem totally straightforward!

Thanks to Alex for talking to the Climbing Photography blog. If you’d like to comment on this post, or share your own iconic climbing image please drop us a line below.

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