Who We Are
We are Rob Fraser, photographer, and Harriet Fraser, writer.
As a photographer and writer we were working independently for over twenty years, but in 2009 we began to work together and formed somewhere nowhere. Here's the back story, with our personal reflections …
I loved art at school but could not draw to save my life. Frustrated, I picked up a camera in the late 70s, a cheap plastic Halina, and found a way to show the world as I saw it. A revelation.
I have been making a living in one form or another since 1981 just by the simple act of pointing and shooting. Firstly as a photo reporter for the Tenby Observer, then as a ground photographer for the RAF. I left the service in 1990 and turned freelance as a location photographer – not for me being stuck in a darkened room popping flashes off at cans of furniture or babies. I got out there shooting tall ships, beautiful buildings, bikes being ridden over wild terrain, and wide open landscapes. I felt very lucky.
Since moving to Cumbria in 2002 my work has evolved to allow me to work on projects that tap into areas that I am passionate about: the outdoor world, the natural environment.
The technology of photography has grown at a quantum pace in the past decade but the basic act of making an image has remained the same – point and shoot. A great photograph is a magical blend of three things: interesting object in the land where it ‘fits’, great composition and wonderful light.
I have always maintained that the best tool I carry around with me is not a camera (that comes a close second) – it is curiosity. I keep taking pictures because I am still curious. I keep pointing and I keep pressing the shutter. I am still loving the process of drawing with light. And I am still trying to show the wonder of the world as I see it.
I can’t remember not having a love of being outside, nor can I remember a time when being in a natural environment hasn’t made me feel rejuvenated. It’s essential for me in terms of my physical and emotional health, and also as fuel for my writing. The outdoors is my thinking space as well as the place where I dispense with thinking and simply walk, or sit. Similarly, as far as I can remember, the urge to write has always been with me. It is a crucial part of who I am.
My explorative urge has got me into a few scrapes in my time, but it has also done me favours. After leaving Manchester University in 1992 with a degree in Comparative Religion, I headed out to India as one of the writers for the first edition of The Rough Guide to India. And that is really where my writing career started. I followed a path of documentary and reporting, both with the Rough Guides and with press agencies, with a tendency to write about travel, exploration and walking. I turned a sharp curve after having my first child and hooked up with an amazing group of doctors and therapists in London, editing and then writing books on childbirth, parenting, emotional wellbeing and women’s health for ten years. Over the years my interest in the nature of place, habitats, ecology and environmental issues has grown. My curiosity about what it is that makes us as humans happy and well, and the kinds of connections we need in order to thrive and make good decisions is still a vital part of my work; how we treat the world around us begins with how we feel, and how we relate.
When I moved to Cumbria in 1995, I thought it would be for a couple of years, but I’m still here. The landscape here feels more like home than any other place I have ever lived, and I suspect I will never tire of exploring the fells and valleys.
I make a lot of notes, either using my smart phone or a more sensual pencil and notebook, and occasionally sketch when I’m out and about. My poetry is constantly evolving, as of course it should. It interests me that although I was first inspired to read and write poetry as a young teenager, I have taken a long diversion through documentary and non-fiction writing, before being brave enough to share my poetry. Maybe I’m old enough now! An MPhil in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow (2015-2017) allowed me to develop a practice of placing poetry in the landscape (something I called 'Open Fell Poetics' although my poetry finds its way into woods and other settings beyond the fells). And working with the Wordsworth Trust, as one of the engagement team (2015-2017) has not only helped me learn about the work of Dorothy and William Wordsworth and their contemporaries: I love working with other people in the creation of collective poetry, and there have been many beautiful moments and shared celebrations with community groups, featuring poetry and art (and cake). Having said this, for my own sanity and creativity, regular doses of time alone out of doors are important. Even if it’s raining.
In terms of my writing, I hope that even if I’m addressing troubling issues I never lose sight of the wonder I hold at life in all its forms – the improbability and beauty of it. I’ll keep exploring.