Gallery: Photographer captures the 'essence of Suffolk' in new photos
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
It goes without saying that Suffolk is one of Britain’s most beautiful counties. We’ve got rolling hills, endless skies, infinite swathes of countryside, and stunning beaches.
And one man who certainly appreciates his surroundings here in Suffolk is Richard Allenby-Pratt.
Richard is a professional photographer who moved to the village of Yoxford a few years ago, and since relocating has dedicated his time to working on The Suffolk Project – a photographic study on the East Anglian county, with a particular interest in the rural landscape, agriculture, and conservation.
Explaining the inspiration behind the project, he says: “I moved to Suffolk in 2016 after living in Dubai. I’d been wanting to return to the English countryside for some time, and my wife and I were trying to decide where to live. We eventually settled on Suffolk as that’s where her family are from.
“I’d always worked as a commercial photographer and on personal projects, and my personal projects were always in some way related to the relationship between people and the landscape. So when I came to Suffolk, I was looking for subjects of interest,” he says.
Inspired by books he’d read about the county, Richard soon developed an interest in its agricultural history and wanted to photographically explore that further.
“Great writers from this area talk about the history of Suffolk, and a lot of them talk about its agriculture, as that’s mainly what this county was about for centuries. So I soon became interested in the intersection between agriculture and conservation, and how we have productive landscape how we protect it at the same time.”
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And thus, The Suffolk Project was born.
But what is it about the Suffolk countryside that he loves, in terms of its visual appeal?
“Suffolk has a certain aesthetic attraction – the landscape is interesting and, for me, it’s fascinating that way people have interacted with this landscape, and how they’ve changed it over thousands of years,” he explains.
“We also have this history here of buildings and architecture that have grown out of the landscape, like timber used for houses from the surrounding woods. All of those aspects are particularly interesting to me. And one of the most current and important issues of our time, which is how we provide our food to feed everyone, and how we do so without destroying the natural world. These are the stories that interest me about Suffolk.”
With all of that in mind, Richard began heading out and snapping shots of both the local landscape and its residents. But how does he find willing participants?
“It’s been through a mix of ways, really. Instagram has been a great help, as I didn’t know anyone when I first came here, and it’s been effective in helping me connect with people and communities – especially people who work in farming and conservation.
“And because I’m out and about, I often just bump into people and getting chatting to them. I’ll ask if we can set up a photoshoot, and go from there. I come across a lot of people with authentic stories to tell,” he says.
Since setting up The Suffolk Project, Richard has taken hundreds of photos.
“One of the photos that has been the best received was the portrait I took of the champion Suffolk Punch stallion, Achilles. He’s still at The Suffolk Punch Trust and he was one of the biggest champion Suffolk Punches in the modern era. I was fortunate enough to get a portrait of him with Bruce Smith, stud groom at The Suffolk Punch Trust.
“Horses used to be an integral part of countryside living and the rural culture of Suffolk. They would plough the field, but that’s pretty much redundant now, and they’re in danger of disappearing. But people like Bruce and the trust are working hard to keep the breed alive. Achillies himself is the most magnificent, beautiful and lovely-natured horse. It was a real honour to photograph him – and the resulting photo has been quite well-received.”
As Richard continues snapping the Suffolk countryside, he hopes to show the world what this part of the world is really like – and the beauty and intrigue that it holds.
“Taking pictures, particularly in the documentary approach that I take, is all about finding a story that you want to tell, and finding a way to capture that story in a way that communicates a message very effectively. What I really want is a photo that inspires someone - I want to inspire people, and for them to take an interest in the story I’m trying to communicate.”
To find out more about the work Richard does, visit thesuffolkproject.co.uk