Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 19 October 2015

VP's VIPs: Clive Nichols

Clive Nichols
I recently completed Clive Nichols' Masterclass in Flower Photography, so it was great to have the opportunity to nab him for a quick interview at the same time.

Over to you, Clive...


When did you take your first photo? What was it of? 

My first photo was of one of my mates at University – in black and white – that must have been in 1982.

Are you self-taught, or did you study photography in some way?

Totally self taught – I learnt about shutter speeds and things like depth of field from a little book in the 1980’s produced by Kodak called ‘Take better pictures’.

Now you're an acclaimed photographer, what advice would you give to your fledgling photographer self?

Get up early to catch the amazing light at dawn.

[NB Clive has been known to get up early and drive 200 miles to catch that light - Ed]

Who or what inspires you? 

I am inspired by everything and anything – art, landscape, photography, design, fashion, sport.

Clive Nichols
Getting technical 

How much of your work is indoors vs. outdoors?

These days about 70 per cent is exterior, 30 per cent indoors.

Do you use your own garden for your work?

I have just moved to a small house and it has a tiny front garden which I will make into a photogenic courtyard for photography – at my last house – which was a barn, I had a lovely garden that I photographed regularly.

The weather forecast is lousy for your next outdoor shoot. Do you go or rearrange? 

Re-arrange – if it’s windy and rainy then forget it.

Apart from your camera, what piece of equipment would you never be without?

My Manfrotto tripod.

You've completed your latest shoot, what happens next to the photos you've taken?

I process the raw files as quickly as possible and get them onto my photo library.

And finally... 

What's your favourite garden or location? 

This changes all the time- last week I was shooting at Painshill Park in Surrey and the crystal grotto there was just amazing, so for now that is my favourite garden! I especially love shooting at Gina Price's garden at Pettifers in Oxfordshire – it's near me and I know it so well.

Which yet-to-see garden is at the top of your list? 

The garden I would most like to see would be Hermannshof in Germany – it looks so beautiful in photos.

[NB the garden's website is in German. Your browser may or may not offer a translate button - Ed]

What's your proudest moment?

Being chosen by Country Life to photograph HRH The Prince of Wales’s private garden – Birkhall – on the Balmoral Estate in Scotland.

Thanks Clive for the insights, and to MyGardenSchool for setting up the interview and providing the photographs.

You can see more of Clive's work on his websiteFacebook Page and Twitter accounts where you'll find plenty more to inspire you.

Rona Wheeldon over at Flowerona interviewed Clive a while ago, and came up with a quite different set of questions to mine.

Coming soon

Lots more photography resources to help and inspire you, plus a look at cropping photographs with some examples Clive showed me using some of my photos.


  1. It is encouraging to us amateur photogrephers that some one as good as Clive is self taught.
    Not that I shall ever reach his level of photography!

    1. Hi Brian - out of interest I bought copies of a couple of Clive's books from the 1980s and 1990s. It's interesting to see how his photography developed and improved over that time. If we photographed pretty much full time for lots of years, we'd improve a lot too!

  2. I look forward to reading your photography resources. I'm always on the lookout for something different to try.

    1. I've got loads of information Sue, I'm worried the post's going to be too long!

    2. Could you split it into sections and do a sort of mini series? A sort of series of little tasks so that people can learn one thing and then move on to something else.

    3. Hi Sue - it's not really a set of tasks, but lots of stuff like other courses, books etc I've found whilst doing the course. I'm aware that my previous posts focus a lot on what My Garden School has to offer, so I've been researching alternatives.

  3. I would love to attend one of Clive's workshops. One day...... :) Looking forward to hearing more about photography resources. I've learned such a lot from reading your blog VP. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Oh that's lovely Karen, thank you :D


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