Ribble Valley Arts

Q & A

Welcome to the monthly Ribble Valley Arts Q & A feature, each month we invite a Ribble Valley based creative to answer our questions, giving us an insight into their creative journey.

Introducing Inger Vandyke, Photography

Inger Vandyke: ‘What inspires you to be creative?
…on the home front my inspiration is often drawn from the theatre of the landscapes in the Ribble Valley.  We have a view and its chameleon-like nature never ceases to amaze me.’

Australian professional wildlife photojournalist and expedition leader Inger Vandyke now lives in the Forest of Bowland, Ribble Valley. Inger has a long-established photographic career publishing images and stories in worldwide publications. During the course of her career, Inger has been involved in numerous conservation programs. She is an experienced leader of photography tours around the world and her key passion areas include Africa, Tibet and the world’s polar regions.

See more about Inger Vandyke, Photography

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I had a very unorthodox childhood where I was raised on a fishing trawler in Australia and I briefly travelled overseas with my family.  My mother is from Fleetwood here in Lancashire and I think it was her love of travel that always made me want to be either an air hostess or foreign correspondent.

What career path did you take?
I am a trained Front Office Manager for hotels so this is where my career really started.  My long career path has been very varied.  I’ve worked as an international catwalk model, I’ve managed restaurants, worked as an executive assistant in the corporate world and as a lecturer in photojournalism at university level.  When I was 25 I completed a diploma in photojournalism in Australia and I have been working as a professional photographer, journalist and expedition leader around the world for over 20 years. Currently I am the General Manager of Wild Images Photo Tours, one of the largest companies of its type in the world and I am based in Clitheroe.

What is the last thing you created?
I have recently returned from leading an expedition in South Sudan so my photography from there is the last thing I have really created in a sense.

What is the last book you read?
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller, who grew up in Africa.

What was the best concert you have been to?
A concert by the Buena Vista Social club in an old barn that was converted for live music in Schleswig Holstein, Germany

What is your favourite film?
I have many favourite movies but if I had to choose one, it would probably be Out Of Africa

What inspires you to be creative?
I am blessed to be working in my career and every day I see so many fellow photographers whose work inspires me constantly.  On the home front my inspiration is often drawn from the theatre of the landscapes in the Ribble Valley.  We have a view and its chameleon-like nature never ceases to amaze me.

What advice would you give to a teenage you?
If you have a talent that people are starting to appreciate stick with it.  Don’t worry about detractors.  You will find an audience for your work in the most unlikely places.  Don’t be scared.  Never say no to a good opportunity.

If you could learn a new creative skill what would it be?
I would love to learn French.  As my work expands more into Francophone African countries, I would love to be able to communicate more easily and I enjoy French very much as a language.  On a truly creative front I am trying to learn to paint with mixed media and I’m very much enjoying that journey.

What is the best & worst thing somebody has said about your work?
I try not to pepper my memory with terrible things that people have said about my work.  It’s been a while since someone has made any negative comments as I largely work solo and if I seek out any feedback it is usually constructive critiques.  I think the most recent criticism I’ve had is that some of my portraits lack context, which I’ve taken on board and tried to learn from.

I was recently described as a ‘living treasure’ for my work in Africa which made me feel very humbled.  I never really seek admiration as I would prefer my work and the people I photograph to speak for me over what I think of myself personally.  The greatest honour anyone can bestow upon me is to live alongside my work every day and I am blessed to have collectors of my work around the world who have chosen to do just that!

Which living artist’s work do you most admire and why?
The photographer duo Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher who have travelled the African continent documenting cultures for over 30 years.  I am in the process of gathering material for a book on the vanishing cultures of Africa and I truly admire these women for what they’ve seen, much of which is no longer with us.  Their most recent work is published in two large books called African Twilight.

What would be your next dream job?
I am at the pinnacle of my career so I don’t really have a dream job to go to next.  Photography is a wondrous journey so if I shifted from what I am doing now, it would be to a genre that I am completely not used to.  I started as a conservation photographer and if you’d asked me 20 years ago where my future lay, I would have said that I would be a conservation photographer.  Fast forward today and I am a contributing photographer to the prestigious Atlas of Humanity project based in Paris for my work photographing the world’s people.  Twenty years ago I could never have dreamed that I would be where I am right now so I am open to where photography might lead me next.