If I were asked which UK landscape photographer and whose book has had the most impact on my perception of what constitutes the finest in inspirational UK monochrome landscape photography, my answer would be succinct: “John Clow!”. There are many fine past and current black and white landscape photography practitioners in the UK, but John’s work transcends most to my eye. When I first saw John’s work in the 1970’s, it encapsulated everything that I love about images of our hills and UK monochrome landscape photography. John Clow’s two books, The Mountains of Snowdonia (pb Creative Monochrome, 1993) and Snowdonia Revisited (pb Creative Monochrome, 1996) are amongst my most treasured landscape photography books. Both are now out of print but still regularly available secondhand and I would urge anyone who walks in Snowdonia with an interest in black and white photography to buy both of these books. John was not only a gifted landscape photographer, he was also an artist and poet. He had a sensitivity to his surroundings and an inspiring ability to transmit his perception of mood, light and shadow to his images and accompanying text.
Both books are wonderful and page after page leaves me in awe of his remarkable craftsmanship and determination to create art with his Hasselblad 500CM, but it is Snowdonia Revisited that is really a tour de force in UK landscape photography. Sadly, John Clow is no longer with us and I regret not having had the privilege of meeting him in person but his work lives on and continues to inspire and move me as deeply as ever it did.
For those of us who have an obsession with black and white photography, equally missed is Creative Monochrome. Roger Maile’s publications were a magnificent resource, showcasing the work of many inspirational photographers and giving a platform to so many that would otherwise have slipped under the radar. I doubt we’ll ever see the like of John Clow or Creative Monochrome again, but at least many now discontinued CM Contemporary Portfolios and Best of Friends annual editions are regularly available on the second hand market at reasonable cost. All are worth adding to your bookshelf, grab one quick!