The Ascent of Mont Blanc

On this day (8 August) in 1786, Mont Blanc was climbed for the first time. It marked the beginning of mountaineering in the Alps as over the next 100 years all the major peaks in the Alps were conquered one by by one for the first time.

It’s a special day in the year for me because in the summer of 1955 I guided my son (then aged 17) to the summit of Mont Blanc.

Starting out from the mountain hut of Les Grands Mulets at 1am we followed the route those pioneers took on their route to the summit except for the last 1,000ft where a better and safer route is now used.

Watching the sun rise over the shoulder of the Aiguille du Midi was a magical moment. On the summit ridge the views over the neighbouring mountains provided the proof that we were now above every other summit in the Alps.

We reached the summit around 9am. The descent was equally tough and we didn’t reach base – the town of Chamonix – until 7pm. We had been on our feet for 18 hours. We were exhausted!

If you are interested to know more there are two other posts about Mont Blanc on this blog. Type ‘Mont Blanc’ into the search box on the right of the screen and a batch of previous posts will be shown. Look for the following two:

‘The story behind the first ascent of Mont Blanc’, and ‘Montagne de la Cote – in the steps of Balmat and Paccard’.

Posted in Climb and Trek, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The quiet wood

Despite living in West Sussex for six and a half years, I am still discovering areas of woodland within a 15 minute walk of our house.

This is my most recent ‘find’. I think it may have been deliberately planted as an array of trees (in the UK we call it a plantation). Out to the left is a an area of housing, built around 25 years ago; and out of sight on the right is a main road. The trees form a boundary line. Yes, there is noise from the main road, but the strange thing is that after a minute or two of walking in this area of woodland, I find that the noise ceases to intrude, and I become oblivious of it.

Over time, woodland often becomes overgrown as trees compete for the light and consequently they are dark and moody places. In this wood there has been discrete tree felling – the ground is littered with wood chippings; and there is space and light which to my mind makes it feel very special.

I took a series of images and this is the first one that I have processed. I will be returning through the seasons

Posted in Landscapes | 9 Comments


Hi everyone. It must be about 21 months since I last posted an entry on this blog. It’s surprising how something that was so much part of my life was knocked off the board so comprehensively by the Covid pandemic. Life as we knew it was constrained within narrow margins – physically and mentally. Life was all about survival, adhering to government advice, and massive adjustments to what previously we took for granted.

Photography was one of the casualties. It is now two and a half years since I got on a train and went to London – one of my favourite photographic hunting grounds. It’s two winters since I last skied. Four summers since I last visited the Alps. When life is restricted by events beyond our control (but for our good health) then picking up where we left off has been unexpectedly difficult. We had drifted into a new rhythm of life – a rhythm that has proved difficult to discard.

Posting today marks a new beginning. Today’s images were entered in last week’s local Photographic Society competition which had the title ‘Selfies’. I don’t normally do selfies, so a trawl through the Archive was needed. One of these images was given first place, and the other was highly commended. Which do you think won?

To my surprise it was the second one taken at the end of a bitterly cold day skiing on the edge of the Mont Blanc massif. It snowed intermittently all day, visibility was very limited (what skiers call white-out), but still we skied. Hoping the weather would clear – it didn’t!

The top image was on another day of variable weather. I was in two minds whether to venture this high on my own and I sat in this position for half an hour while the weather dithered. Finally the clouds lifted and the way ahead – this superb corniced ridge – became clear. I’d never shot an image like this before but I liked it as it placed me firmly in the frame. I was there. The cramponed boots proved it and they said something about what was required to safely navigate this terrain.

I’ve broken the ice metaphorically with this post. Now to continue…

Posted in MountainScape, Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Cubist reflection

This is one of the more bizarre reflections that I’ve captured  from the Docklands area of east London. Whether the glass facade was planned to reflect its neighbours in such an outrageous way or whether this happened purely by chance is immaterial. It’s resulted in something rather special. And I’m sure I am not the only photographer to have spotted it.

Posted in Architecture & Buildings, Reflection | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Window Abstract

Reflective glass is often a bonus to the photographer. In some cases it is pure reflection, often subject to a degree of distortion. In other cases – and this is an example – you get a mix of see-through and distorted reflection.

In this image we have geometric lines from the interior, areas of reflected sky and the reflected facade of the building opposite. The overall result is chaos but there are rational lines that criss -cross the image too.

Posted in Abstractions, Reflection | Tagged | 10 Comments

Towards the Light

The concept of time feels warped. It’s another facet of Lockdown. The weeks drift by alarmingly fast (we’re back to Monday again when I clean a bathroom), and yet the individual days seem to drag. It helps to keep busy. I get up quite early and have about ninety minutes of quietness when I can read or write without any interruption. And that time seems to fly by.

Lockdown is easing, but it could so easily become one step forward and two steps backward. Children returned to school today, another major step on the way to some sort of normal.

One of the things I have missed the most is regular days out up in London visiting Exhibitions. This was shot at an exhibition of Antony Gormley’s work (a sculptor) last year. I took a number of shots of this sculpture which consisted of a set of interconnecting cubes with the occasional shaft of light piercing the otherwise gloomy interior.

As creative artists we only thrive when we have access to the work of other artists. A quote that I remember well by Alain Briot (French photographer, writer and teacher) sums this up very well. He sad: “Creativity is an input-output, import-export business. You have to be in contact with other artists … in order to foster creativity.” So very true.

I’m getting bolder, one day soon I must summon the courage to get on a train. There’s an exhibition of Andy Warhol I really would like to see.

Thank you so much to all those who have got back in touch. I value the interaction. I must start viewing as well as posting.


Posted in Abstractions | 10 Comments

The Lost Normal

I haven’t blogged for months. Lockdown knocked ‘Normal’ into the long grass. We had to adjust to the strictures of a new so-called Normality. The familiar flow of a day was disrupted and with it went so many features that added colour to life. The camera has sat gathering dust for much of the time. When I picked up my Lumix LX100 recently, I had to read part of the camera manual to remember how to change a setting!

Instead of capturing images, I’ve been writing – not about photography but writing about me and may family so that there will be something in print for the next generation. Gone are the days when the concept of oral tradition was sufficient to pass on family facts.

I’m going back into the archives with this image but, in a way, it sums up what so many of us are missing in our everyday lives. Human contact. The ability to meet and greet friends and family. How long is it going to take before the old Normal is restored?


Posted in A Personal Viewpoint | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Back to the Mountains

It’s the season of short days and long nights; time to work on the image archives. I’m busy preparing a new iteration of a talk about Alpine photography titled ‘High ‘n Wild with a Camera’ and in the process re-living many memorable days in the Swiss Alps.

The image you see today is one of my favourite views of the Mischabel range of mountains. The range is visible from many viewpoints but this one allows one to frame the peaks between the shoulders of the Almagelleralp valley (a side valley off the main Saas valley).

This view spans 8kms from left to right, and the central summit is 10kms from where I am standing. The high point on that long ridge line is the Dom, the highest mountain within Switzerland. The range is part of the dividing line between the Zermatt valley beyond it, and the Seas valley in front of it.

I was lucky to be here on a day when the weather was changing, and the clouds girdling the  peaks and the high wind-blown wisps of cirrus clouds portend that change.

Posted in Black & White, Swiss Alps - Summer | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

The Sustainable Movement

I want to talk to you today about Sustainability and ‘The Sustainable Movement’. The concept of Sustainability is critical to our response to Climate Change. We must move away from the ‘buy today and throw away tomorrow’ society and value the scarce resources of our planet; and more than that, design, build and live with Sustainability at the forefront of our planning and thinking.

‘The Sustainable Movement’– is a book written by our son Richard that addresses these issues and I am very proud to be promoting it to you today. Richard is a well-respected graphic designer aiming to self-publish ‘The Sustainable Movement’ through crowd-funding using Kickstarter.

Please read on to hear what Richard has to say about his book:

This book is an urgent call to anyone working within the creative community. Not just all artists, designers and architects, but engineers, economists, technologists, agriculturalists and so on.

It’s intended as the start to a much longer journey of engaging the design and creative communities in the ideas of becoming more aware; and building on more mindful enterprises.

This book looks at the journey taken to get us here, to the beginnings of a new movement – The Sustainable Movement – which despite remaining an unproven theory, has for some time now, shown great potential. Then shows how only as a brightly lit community in action, might we collectively set ourselves on a healthier long-term trajectory.

So how do movements like this happen? Where do they come from and what exactly are they made of? How far back do the origins of The Sustainable Movement really stretch? 

Not since the early twentieth century and the post-war building programmes of WW1 & WW2 have we needed such a wholesale reappraisal of all the systems by which we live, and by which society functions. Including not just the methods by which we design, make and build, but also the values through which we ‘see’.

In 1934, the poet Ezra Pound declared “Make it new!” A simple mantra which once captured the bold dynamic energy from which the Modern Movement sprang. This simplistic mindset is still useful today as we continue to reject the obsolete culture of the past and embrace instead the spirit of constant change. But it has equally become a way of thinking no longer adequate to guide us through the complex and increasingly precarious circumstances in which we presently find ourselves.

How the Modern Movement came together to ‘be’ – kick-started initially by the Arts & Crafts Movement, and catapulted forwards through the tuition of ground-breaking schools like the Bauhaus (and later the Ulm) – does offer us more than a few useful clues for how we might move forwards today. 

It’s achieved partly through a process of repurposing history. This book takes some of the most relevant design and cultural thinking from the last century and remoulds it according to our present-day context and pressures; repurposing the thoughts and ideas from design international heavy-hitters from Theo Van Doesburg to Bill Moggridge. The interlinking story created, demonstrates that many of the foundations for how we think and act both now or in the future, already lie in our shared past – helping to show that somewhere out there, everything is connected.

How do we make a movement finally fit for purpose in the 21st Century? One that works effectively to solve the most pressing of today’s human needs, whilst meeting and fulfilling those of nature too. These pages don’t hold all the answers, but they are very much written and designed to inspire and get you thinking, in action!

Will The Sustainable Movement one day rise to define the path taken by this 21st Century? We won’t find out for some time to come. But one detail which is for certain, even now – is that the future will need to become more Sustainable by our Design.We are all artists now!

Richard Hooker is a London based, award winning multi-disciplined graphic designer, who’s been working in the brand, advertising, design, and technology community for almost 20 years.

Whilst collaborating with big global brands (Honda, Nike, Adidas, Uber), small venture-funded technology start-ups (audio streaming startup Mixlr), and most scales in between, he’s seen plenty of room for improvement into how we design, build and organise the objects and systems by which we live.

Founder of ‘The Sustainers’ (2017) he also curates an online platform of stories of people pushing the boundaries of a future which is more Sustainable by Design

Want to know more about Richard’s book? Please search for ‘The Sustainable Movement’ on Kickstarter, or click the link here.

If you like what you read – then consider making a donation, better still buy a book or pass the message on to people you know. Books have been pre-ordered in USA, Canada, Australia and across Europe. Thank you for reading this far – it’s appreciated.

[Kickstarter helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality. To date, tens of thousands of creative projects — big and small — have come to life with the support of the Kickstarter community. Kickstarter is an enormous global community built around creativity and creative projects. Over 10 million people, from every continent on earth, have backed a Kickstarter project.]

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments


A walk in woodland is always a joy. From the translucent greens of spring, to the multi-coloured feast of autumn. For the quietness. And for the woodland itself – the straight trunks that create a kind of order and depth.

This was taken in the summer and has been softened slightly in processing, in part thanks to Topaz Clean. It has produced an image that has a slightly painterly feel to it.

Posted in Landscapes | Tagged , | 2 Comments