Photographer David Wilson captures Wales in 'light and shade'

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Media captionPhotographer David Wilson says powerful images 'have something dark' about them

He is known for his striking, monochrome images of the Welsh landscape. Ask David Wilson to capture the beauty of our countryside and he'll return with photographs soaked in darkness and shadow.

"An image that is powerful, that reaches deep down inside you, has to have something dark about it," he explains. "It's about exploring the landscape to find those differences in light and shade and how they fall together to form a composition."

David Wilson is chatting to me outside the remote 19th Century chapel of Soar y Mynydd in the Cambrian Mountains.

It is one of dozens of historic sites that he's photographing for his latest project. The book will be a snapshot of Wales' social history, focusing on the bricks and mortar, stone and thatch of some of the country's most important buildings.

"It reminds you of a time when things were taken more slowly," he says of the isolated chapel. "Worshippers would have travelled from miles away on horseback just to get here. It would have them taken them hours. You get a strong sense of community with this building."

Image copyright David Wilson
Image caption Soar y Mynydd, a Calvinist Methodist chapel on the banks of the River Camddwr, captured by David Wilson

Although the 49-year-old is now regarded as one of Wales' finest landscape photographers, he never envisaged a career behind the lens. What changed his mind was a near-death experience on the roads near his Pembrokeshire home.

"When I was younger I quite fancied myself as Haverfordwest's answer to Evel Knievel," he recalls. "Inevitably, I had a pretty bad motorcycle crash which put me in hospital for six months. I'd broken my neck and back.

"After that, I had to try to recover from my injuries which took a long, long time. I had a camera which helped me to get out. It forced me to walk, or totter, the 100 yards or so to take a photo. The camera was instrumental in the recovery I eventually made."

Initially, he photographed the landscape of Pembrokeshire, which was easier for him to reach. That body of work defined his stark, high contrast style of shooting and eventually led to a fulltime career as a photographer.

"I'm a great believer that everyone has something inside them, something that is artistic," he explains.

"I've been fortunate enough to explore whatever was in me and draw it out. But I think everyone has some talent, some gift. It's just whether you discover it or not."

Image copyright David Wilson
Image copyright David Wilson
Image copyright David Wilson
Image copyright David Wilson