about ciaran / biography
Ciarán’s photography is focused on the landscapes of Sligo, Galway and the West of Ireland. His aim is to capture these stunning landscapes at their very best and where possible from an off the beaten track vantage point.
The below excerpt is taken from a recent interview for Sligo Now magazine:
Q - What’s your first memory of photography/photographs ? Did you always have an interest/passion or did it come later in life? What was your ah-ha! moment when you knew you wanted to do this.
I’ve been fascinated by photographs for as long as I can remember. Like many landscape photographers the National Geographic magazine would have been a big inspiration to me. I’ve always been amazed by how their photographers manage to bring a landscape to life so vividly. I’ve been taking photographs since I was 7 or 8 but its only really since I started to enjoy the instant feedback that the digital format provides that I’ve really grown as a photographer.
Q - Tell me about your passion for panoramic shots? Where does the inspiration come from? Did you consciously choose this format to stand out, or did Sligo scenery lend itself naturally to such a scale?
I recently came across my very first panorama photograph which was taken from the top of Knocknarea back in the late 80’s. I had taken 4 separate photos with my mum’s point-and-shoot 35mm film camera and used a scalpel to join the shots together on a card mount. The local Sligo and West of Ireland scenery in general has been directly responsible for my interest in panorama photography. When I come across a scene that I want to capture in a photograph, be it the vast Sligo coastline or Connemara’s 12 Bens, the main challenge can be deciding what to leave out! I have played around with various formats but for me a panorama which takes in approximately 120 degrees best represents our own peripheral vision and I suppose its become somewhat of a trademark of my landscape photography.
Q -What has been the most challenging shot you’ve ever got? Have you found yourself in any awkward/dangerous/uncomfortable spots over the years? Tell me the stories!
Often the most challenging shots I’m after are ones that require certain weather conditions which often means several trips under pressure against changing lighting and the elements. As far as danger goes I have probably been chased by most things this country has to offer on four legs (and have had a few two legged close encounters along the way also!) However one photograph comes to mind straight way was taken of An Bád Mór at the Cruinniú na mBád in Kinvara. Co. Galway. I had been trying to catch these traditional Galway hookers under sail for years but ended up literally getting in very nearly over my head one evening a few summers back. I found myself wading back to dry land through chest-high water with my camera bag held high above my head when the peninsula I had been perched on to get a good vantage point had fast become an island during a Spring tide! Luckily the only real causalities of the day were my phone and dignity!
Q - If you could only pick one shot of yours as your all time favourite, which would it be and why? Can you describe it to me in detail?
My own personal favourite would be one of my earlier panorama photographs, The Glen at Knocknarea. Growing up in Ransboro I spent a lot of time exploring and camping in the glen and have always found it to be a magical place. As a photographer the images I’m often most happy with are ones taken somewhere where I have a strong emotional connection with. The photograph itself was taken on a wet autumn afternoon and is made of 7 portrait images stitched together. The left of the photograph focuses on the rugged cliff face while your eye is drawn down the path to the right of the shot and into the heart of the glen. Most people who like this image tell me it conjures up images for them of The of Lord of the Rings or Narnia.
Q - In no holds barred, fantasy-land, where would this career take you? Go wild!
I enjoy taking photographs when I’m travelling but to be honest there are very few places that have such a diverse and spirited landscape as the West of Ireland. So if the National Geographic is ever looking for someone to take up an assignment west of the Shannon they have my number….
Ciaran being interviewed about his "Into the Twilight - the Landscape of WB Yeats" photography collection for IrishTV when it was being exhibited in City Hall as part of the 2015 Tread Softly Festival. The collection was first lunched at Hyde Bridge Gallery at the Yeats Building in March 2015 with the opening performed by the British Ambassador to Ireland, Dominick Chilcott.