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by Derry Brabbs
Frances Lincoln ISBN 0 7112 2495 1
Two of my favourite hobbies over the years have been fellwalking and photography. It seems natural for these to go hand in hand as one always likes to record a particular view from a summit or ascent, and I know many other walkers feel the same way. Therefore, when I received a copy of In the Footprints of Wainwright, this was a book that I knew would give me an immense amount of reading pleasure and I was not to be disappointed.
In the Footprints of Wainwright starts with a fascinating account of Derry’s training during his early days as a photographer working for such magazines as TV Times. He then made his name as the photographer for the international bestseller James Herriot’s Yorkshire, which led in due course to his meeting Wainwright and the trials and tribulations – and, yes, the joys – of working with the great fellwalker on a series of bestselling books. The book contains insights into Wainwright’s unique character, the way he (and not the designers at Michael Joseph Ltd, the publishers) dictated the layout for the books in his meticulous way, and how Derry’s work was made so much easier by having specific objectives and viewpoints given to him by AW as to where he should photograph. There are some very amusing stories in the book about Derry’s first ascents of some of the Lake District fells and I am sure that Society members will empathise with him when reading these. He also includes a mass of practical advice for would-be outdoor photographers and I found this particularly fascinating.
The book is illustrated with more than 300 of Derry’s spectacular photographs, combined with his story behind the pictures. He spent the best part of a decade working with AW on a total of seven books in the Lake District, Pennines and Scotland, beginning with Fellwalking with Wainwright and ending with the posthumously published Wainwright in the Valleys of Lakeland. In the Footsteps of Wainwright gives a brilliant insight into this period of the 1980s when AW and Derry’s collaboration became ‘bestsellers’. It is a book that surely has to be a must for any Society member.
reviewed by John Burland - Member No. 2