wild beaches and weird trees – the Isle of Wight as you’ve never seen it before
We all have our special places; we love Dorset, but there are so many more to discover – it’s a Dorset state of mind. Here we reveal one of Instagram’s best hidden treasures, the photographer who shows the Isle of Wight in a whole new light…
What images come to mind when you think of the Isle of Wight? Genteel holiday strolls along a pier? Yachts at the Cowes Week regatta? If you’re of a certain vintage you might even picture a mass of hippies at the 1970 rock festival headlined by Jimi Hendrix.
But if you’re lucky enough to follow the photographer Neil Williams on Instagram, you’ll see the island in a totally different light.
On one day you might get an astonishing pink-and-purple sunrise over what seems to be an endless beach, the sea and sky bleeding into each other on a far horizon. On another day there could be a single, weird tree emerging from the mist.
Luccombe Farm. Copyright Neil Williams
You might see surfers performing acrobatics in huge Australian-like waves, or hulking rainclouds over very English-looking countryside.
A Freshwater Bay surfer. Copyright Neil Williams
Neil Williams has got to know the Isle of Wight’s astonishing variety of landscapes, seascapes and moods as well as anyone – and thanks to Instagram, we can all get a glimpse.
Yet following Neil is not just about a moment’s escapism into an image: it’s a voyage of discovery.
His Instagram posts include lovely little snippets of information – for example, beside the striking shot of the Binnel Bay Harbour Remains he provides us with this: ‘In 1880 German industrialist William Spindler moved to St Lawrence and attempted at enormous expense to build a harbour. Of course it all had done by hand and shovel with an army of labourers. But it was destroyed by a storm before it could ever be used. I love this spot.’.
He subtitles the image “The Folly Of Man.”
Neil never studied art or photography in any formal way, so how does he manage to get so many striking images? Patience, hard work and practice appear to be the most important things. Neil explains:
‘You need to get familiar with the light and your subject. This is the best bit. I can spend days walking miles and miles and take not a single picture. I might get up every morning and revisit the same spot a dozen times before I even get my camera out of the bag. It takes a patience which has to be practised.’
But the rewards are worth the wait.
‘The hard part really is being in the right place at the right time,’ says Neil. ‘When the light and weather and location all come together I can actually get the shakes. The picture is so obvious. Keep calm, put the camera on the tripod, compose the shot and shoot. Quickly: sometimes the shows over in seconds. You know immediately you’ve caught something special.’
Neil sells prints online and in his shop on the Esplanade in Ventnor, a seaside town on the south of the Isle of Wight. He moved there from London with young family in 2012, having fallen in love with the island while on holiday. It does seem a pretty idyllic sort of life – waking with the birds, shooting the dawn and earning a living from doing what you love best.
We’re just grateful to Neil for sharing these special places with us more or less every day on Instagram – it’s really very generous, when you think about it.
You can buy Neil’s fantastic landscape and other prints online – such as ‘Ventnor Sunrise’ (top) – on his website – and make sure you follow him on Instagram here.
Share your favourite place…
What’s your favourite place in the world? The place you dream of being when you’re commuting to work instead.
Is it a secret beach, or a favourite woodland walk? Or just the view from your bedroom window?
Arran Witheford finds the place of his dreams high up over the Jurassic Coast above waterfalls of fog. Like Arran, we love Dorset, but there are so many other places to discover – it’s a Dorset state of mind.