AS a boy, photographer John Wesson would borrow his father’s camera and take it on fishing trips to record his catch.
“I still have some black & white prints of those unfortunate fish,” he jokes. “Interestingly, I don’t have any landscape pictures taken at that time, our pictures were all of fish…as using and developing film at Hart’s the chemist in town was expensive.”
Growing up in Derbyshire, the intrepid explorer would cycle the local lanes and byways looking for new places to fish. From there a life-long love of nature was born.
Much of his photography today is influenced not by fishing but by his affinity to Co. Kerry, Valentia Island in particular, where he has been a regular visitor for the last 30 years.
With each passing year he now spends more and more time in the area, often out and about with his dog Bella.
Wesson’s three decade-long love affair with the kingdom has now been transformed into a new book, the photographer’s first, called Capturing the Beauty of Kerry.
Shooting with Canon cameras, Wesson has strived to capture the true essence of Kerry from its big skies and huge vistas to its big-hearted people.
The former engineering apprentice recalls spending a month’s wages on his very first camera - a 35mm with a 50mm lens, which he later travelled the length and breadth of Britain with on various motorbikes.
Today he indulges his love for the Irish Sea and landscapes through his photographs.
“However I’m interested in everything from weeds to weddings,” he jokes.
His pictures of Kerry capture the ever-changing Atlantic light, crashing waves and glorious sunsets from the lush pastures of the North and the tranquil lakes of Killarney, to the other-worldly Skellig Islands and the serenity of the Blaskets.
“Kerry is the perfect county if you are interested in landscapes and seascapes,” he says.
“With the continually changing Atlantic light, you will never see the same scene twice.”
Scroll down to see John Wesson's four favourite pictures of Kerry
Beauty in ruin
I call this picture ‘For Sale…apply within’; one of the many abandoned, ruined houses to be found in Kerry. I must admit that they fascinate me.
I have a growing collection of photographs of them, both internally and externally, because as the man on the radio advert says, ‘when they’re gone, they’re gone’.
As mentioned in the book, a retired builder friend can remember an old lady living in the house.
There was no chimney, and smoke from the fire came out through the roof and the door.
It is incredible to think that in living memory we had someone living in conditions that were not unlike those of our Neolithic ancestors of 5,000 years ago.
In the eye of the storm
The Skelligs, here they appear like torn teeth through the breaking waves, against a threatening storm cloud.
This photograph was taken from St Finian's beach using a long zoom lens which compresses the perspective.
The waves and the Skelligs consequently look closer together than they actually are, as in fact there is a distance between them of several miles.
These huge waves make St Finian's Bay very popular with both surfboarders and bass anglers, and whether calm and tranquil or wild and stormy, it is a constant draw for visitors to Kerry.
Dingle Bay selfie
This panoramic picture of the channel taken from the Great Blasket is a ‘stitched’ image, whereby three or four images are combined together to form one image.
I had spent the night in Peig Sayers’ old house. Peig has written extensively about her experience of living on the Blaskets and is probably the most famous Blasket author.
It was a wonderful experience and an ideal place for a little contemplation…cup of tea in hand.
Just behind me in the picture is Dingle Bay; the most famous stretch of water on the west coast of Ireland.
Visitors from near and far are compelled to stop, look and marvel at the bay. Out comes the camera phone, and with the bay over the shoulder, another 'Dingle Bay selfie' is taken.
First made famous in the 1970 film Ryan's Daughter and filmed in Super Panavision, the local landscape was exploited fully by director David Lean.
Fans of Ryan’s Daughter still seek out the various locations that were used, and so the film is said to have put the town of Dingle on the tourist map.
This huge vista, with its ever-changing light and drama, is a must-see when visiting Kerry.
A welcome visitor
I took this picture of the rabbit nibbling an orchid while lying on the floor and through the back door of our house on Valentia.
I was suffering from a rather nasty dose of something (man-flu?).
Confined to the house for a few days, this little fella was a frequent visitor.
He was also my only visitor, apart from the rather sinister-looking Hoody crow, pictured on the last page of the book.
The crow looks as if he is eyeing me up… so I am glad to say that I made a complete recovery.
Capturing the Beauty of Kerry by John Wesson is out now, published by O’Brien Press, priced at £21.99.