Q&A | The Lakelanders</br>- Billy Redden

Q&AThe Lakelanders
- Billy Redden

The Lakelanders are a group of ten amateur photographers who work together to help showcase the beauty of the Lake District to a global audience. They offer stunning photography of our home landscape alongside tips on the best walking routes, local pubs and secret spots to explore. After attending an event for local photographers, hosted by The Lakelanders, our Graphic Designer Bex learnt a little more about how the group came to be and how others can get involved. 

Words & Photography by Billy Redden | @thelakelanders

Tell us a bit more about the Lakelanders and how you came together?

The Lakelanders was the idea of Daniel Toal (@daniel.toal) and Royce Meckin (@royce__06), they'd begun speaking about creating a hub to showcase the best images of the Lake District and set to work putting together a group of 10 photographers to be part of the team. Once the initial 10 were chosen we all shared our ideas as to how the page would run and what we thought was the best way to use this platform to showcase the area. We believed that despite there being many hubs showcasing the Lakes that none of them were actually giving information about locations, best places to park, nearby pubs, accessibility and nearby cafes, pubs etc. So we wanted to share more information about the locations we showcased. In August, Dan stepped down from running the page and handed over to myself (@breddenphoto).

Is everyone involved a hobbyist? Or are there professional photographers within the group?

All of us Lakelanders are hobby photographers who just love the Lakes. There are actually three members who aren’t Lake District based but some of those guys do spend as much time in the lakes as those of us who call it home. We all have a passion for the area and wish to showcase it in the best way we possibly can. A few of us do sell prints and a couple of us have websites but none of us are professional in terms of doing this as a job.

Hows has your group grown since starting the Lakelanders?

The group was set up as ten people so we could best share the workload. Each of us takes a turn at running the page for a day. On this day we post one of our own shots in the morning, in this post we try and include a little information about the location to help others who maybe aren’t from the area to get some ideas about where to go when they visit.

Having ten also gives us various different styles of photography so we can keep the content covering as much of the Lakes as possible.

The lineup of the Lakelanders has evolved along with the growth of the page, we currently have four members who weren’t founder members, we lost a few along the way when they couldn’t commit the time needed. When this happened we put out a ‘Call to Action’ on our page inviting anyone who wanted to join the team to get in touch, we were overwhelmed with the response with over 30 people showing an interest in joining us. We then had a vote as a group as to who would come on board and I think the choices we made have definitely added a different quality to the group.

What's the best way for people to get involved with the Lakelanders if they also share your passion for the Lakes? 

We encourage our followers to use #thelakelanders when sharing their images of the Lakes and each evening we feature one image with our tag, this is chosen by the member who is running the page for that day, this way we get a variety of images which suit everyone's taste rather than the same person choosing every day. There was talk about posting more features daily but I believe that posting in a morning and an evening allows those posts to have more visibility and exposure for those featured rather than being lost in the mire.

We also choose a ‘photographer (tog) of the week’ to feature on a Saturday and Sunday.

You recently had your first Instameet. It was hugely successful and it brought a lot of people together from all over the country. Did you ever think it would be so popular? What happened on the day and have you scheduled another?

The Instameet was a great success for our first time organising such an event, I organised this myself and with no previous experience or knowledge of these 'meets' it was pretty much a shot in the dark. I had no idea if it would be successful or not! As a group we voted on the locations we used on the day and I think they worked really well.

We had over 40 people from as far afield as Bristol, Kent, Norwich, Glasgow, Newcastle, we pretty much covered all points of the compass. This was definitely a shock to us as to how many people travelled to be there, the people from out of the county outnumbered us locals 3-1, which is amazing as not only were we able to show our area off to people we also brought a small boost to local businesses on a usually quiet weekend.

We decided that we would keep the itinerary flexible and only set initial meeting points for the morning in Rydal and the afternoon in Keswick. People were free to either join with others or find their own adventure, the morning saw several small groups break off in their own directions and explore the area, whereas in the afternoon at Keswick the group stayed together and there was over 30 of us left on Castle Crag at the end of the day, which was great for getting to know more photographers. We really enjoyed meeting everyone and it was great to see how different people approach the same subjects when taking images.

We are hoping to organise another one In April/May this year, this one may be a two day meet so that those who have shown an interest in returning can make the most of their weekend while here. Anyone interested in joining us can follow our dedicated Instameet page @LLinstameet.

We have some of the most stunning views in the world, the changing landscapes each year provide you all with the most breathtaking shots. What does the Lake District mean to you all?

I can only speak for myself, but the Lake District keeps me sane in a hectic world, I have a highly stressful job, I manage a football team and travel all over the country every week in that role, I also have three teenagers at home so the opportunity to climb a fell and be alone with my thoughts for a few hours of serenity is an amazing privilege that the Lake District affords me.

Taking up photography also allowed me to slow down, I used to do a lot of fell walking and would rattle around the routes without really stopping to take in the breathtaking views all around us. Photography makes me stop for a moment and take it all in, there really is no better feeling than reaching the summit of a fell before the sun has made its first appearance of the day, getting set up and watching a new day appear before your eyes, it’s one of the most humbling, exhilarating experiences I’ve had. One I would recommend everyone MUST do at some point. The all too familiar scenery takes on new life when viewed at first light.

What is your favourite place to photograph in the Lake District and what was your photography highlight of 2017? 

I’ve been asked this question many times and I honestly can’t answer it. It’s a running joke with my friends that every time I’ve been out shooting I come back saying it’s my favourite place in the Lakes! I think my top 3 is now a top 50. Each place has its own beauty and unique qualities which make it stand out all on its own. I know most of the Lakelanders feel the same, other than Royce who absolutely loves Ashness Jetty (I think he may actually live underneath it and charge a toll for its use). Royce is the Ashness troll.

I think if I had to choose, my top 3 would be Derwentwater, Holme Fell and the Langdales. Those are some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

There are many amazing moments that I’ve missed. Often when something amazing happens I’ve rushed to get my gear set up and by the time it’s all set up and ready to go the cloud rolls in and the light disappears. Having spent 20 years playing football to a good standard I would’ve never believed that I could still get a similar adrenaline rush from something as sedate as photography but ‘chasing the light’ certainly does get the blood flowing.

Whats next for the Lakelanders in 2018?

We just want to keep growing our community to share our beautiful corner of the world with even more people. Our followers are really amazing, they are so engaging with our content and we have many messages every day asking for location tips and information and we always try and help where we can. Our aim will be to continue to inspire people to visit and get out in the Lakes and hopefully we’ll meet many more of the community along the way. 

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