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Award-winning photographer Justin Minns’ first solo exhibition

PUBLISHED: 15:15 20 June 2016 | UPDATED: 15:15 20 June 2016

Five Trees, Five Cows

Five Trees, Five Cows

© Justin Minns

The National Trust’s Boat House Gallery in Flatford hosts award-winning photographer Justin Minns’ first solo exhibition, A Stone’s Throw, until June 26. Janice Walker finds out more about the man behind the lens

Justin MinnsJustin Minns

Although he lives in Suffolk now, award-winning photographer Justin Minns grew up in Essex, and the riverbanks of the Stour were his playground.

His love of the countryside was nurtured by his father, who shared his knowledge of nature with his son. When Justin wasn’t spending his spare time bird watching and fishing, he was painting. Although he was always creative, Justin chose the academic route at school, rather than studying art, and when he left Colchester Royal Grammar School he took a trainee position as a designer at a sign company. Justin has worked as a graphic designer ever since.

As visitors to A Stone’s Throw will see, the skill and photographic talent of Justin belie the fact that he got his first ‘proper’ camera less than ten years ago and is self-taught.

‘My wife bought me a Canon Powershot A640 for Christmas in 2006 because I wanted to take better holiday photos,’ says Justin. ‘I was hooked! I experimented a lot, taking shots of everything and anything before discovering a love for landscapes. That was about the same time I realised the limitations of my camera and I got my first DSLR, a Canon 30D, in 2008.

Haywain in MonoHaywain in Mono

‘I read a lot of magazines, looked at a lot of pictures online and studied the ones I really liked, trying to pick them apart and work out the techniques involved. I got a lot of inspiration from the Landscape Photography of the Year books which opened my eyes to what could be achieved,’ Justin explains.

It has paid off; the photographer has had images commended in the 2012, 2013 and 2015 Landscape Photographer of the Year and 2014 and 2015 International Garden Photographer of the Year competitions. He also received an LRPS distinction from the Royal Photographic Society in 2014.

Justin now imparts his knowledge to fellow photographers in one-to-one and group workshops. ‘I enjoy sharing the beauty and atmosphere of the landscapes that I love with other photographers and helping them to capture what they see,’ he says.

At the heart of the collection Justin is exhibiting at the Boat House Gallery, are his beautiful photographs of the area around Flatford and Dedham, known as Constable Country. It’s a location he often shares with his workshop clients and the area is one of Justin’s favourites.

‘Having grown up in the area, the Stour Valley has always been close to my heart,’ says Justin. ‘Walking along the river as it gently meanders through timeless meadows towards Flatford, the banks dotted with gnarled and twisted trees, it feels as if little has changed since Constable’s day.’

The photographer can often be found along those riverbanks, with his camera and rucksack, particularly early in the mornings.

‘The best light often comes when the weather is changing; when the sun breaks through dark clouds after a shower and splashes light across the landscape is pretty special. I love sunrise, not just because of the stunning colours the sky takes on around dawn, but also because the quality of the light during the first few minutes after sunrise is hard to beat.

Find out more

The exhibition A Stone’s Throw runs until Sunday, June 26 at the Boat House Gallery, National Trust, Flatford CO7 6UL. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/flatford/features/boat-house-gallery

To see more of Justin’s images, visit www.justinminns.co.uk

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