The Current Issue
Nikon Owner Issue 19
The Brothers Collier by Gillian Greenwood
Phil and Tim Collier are two brothers who have worked together on many projects. Their photographic work shows a profound empathy and understanding of the natural world, with its seasons and rhythms, its pageantries and mysteries. Gillian Greenwood explorers their work and their accomplishments in a two-part article, starting with Tim Collier.
A photographer can document, record, report, present. His work can be meticulously and carefully executed. He can use the most suitable body, the correct lens, the exposure suggested by the meter. He can be the model photographer, yet, constrained by his tools, a vassal to them.
A photographer can be an inspired creator, the author of images of great eloquence and graceful symmetry. He can use the lyrical language of form and light to convey an idea: the concept of unfathomable solitude, the wild beauty of a landscape or the undiminished energy of a storm. He can be a Poet.
Phil and Tim Collier are such poets. Their photographic work shows a profound empathy and understanding of the natural world, with its seasons and rhythms, its pageantries and mysteries. They chronicle with poetic insight the unfolding relationship between the land and its inhabitants, whether the indigenous wildlife or the people who work it. It's a vision of the world that's timeless.
Both Phil and Tim Collier are enthusiastic Nikon users and subscribers of Nikon Owner magazine. Tim has exhibited his work1 widely across the U.K., and over the last twenty-five years has been involved in many substantial photographic projects that were commissioned to document and illustrate significant changes that have occurred in various communities of Britain within the last few decades. Both Tim and Phil have had their work published, and Phil's next project will be to photograph the habitats, wildlife and people on all forty of Cumbria's Wildlife Trust Reserves.
Phil and Tim Collier grew up in John Lennon's Liverpool in the late nineteen-fifties and early nineteen-sixties. At seventeen, Phil formed his own band, prophetically called Buzzard; he wrote the lyrics, was the lead singer and guitarist while Tim, at fifteen, was the band's photographer. While Tim has followed a photographic career throughout his life, it was more recently that Phil took up wildlife photography as a serious study, alongside his passion for ornithology. They both work in different but complimentary ways, Phil with an array of telephoto lenses for focused wildlife studies, Tim tending to work with wide-angle lenses so as to capture the essence of the landscape and its relationship with the subject.
In spite of living three hundred miles apart - Tim lives in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales, and Phil lives in Cumbria - they pursue mutual photographic goals, currently planning a series of photographic exhibitions of the Scottish landscape first encountered as children of five and seven. Over the last fifteen years they have been involved in many photographic projects together to Scotland, including trips to Mull, Islay, the Western Isles, the North-West Highlands, and Speyside.
As their work is essentially complimentary, by working together they are able to capture the broader perspective of the area.
"Our first sighting of a golden eagle… who knows, at the age of five and seven, it may have been a buzzard... or the slow worm, that became an adder, in the hills behind the cottage we stayed in, are as tangible now as our last sighting of a white-tailed eagle, or the very close encounter we had on our last trip to Mull of an otter feeding two young."
In Part I of The Brothers Collier, we examine the breadth of Tim Collier's photographic accomplishments, and in Part II (Issue XX) we follow Phil Collier's enthusiasm for ornithology and his work as a wildlife photographer.
TIM COLLIER the poetry and the passion
Photography is both Tim Collier's passion and his life. His main focus as a photographer has been in the exploration of the unique quality of light that can continually change both the character and formal relationships of a landscape. For Tim, the light that plays within the landscape suggests not one moment but a series of universal moments - a continuum of both past and present. Visually his work is mystical, almost visionary, from the wild sweep of a Hebridean seascape swathed in mist and cloud to the stoic agelessness of the Callanish stones, perpendicular monuments of solemn strength. As a photographer, he has said that he prefers "to interfere as little as he can with the recording process, to let what is there come into the camera", and what he allows into his camera are images of visual beauty.
Tim's first camera as a child was a Kodak Instamatic. He moved on to a Zenith as a teenager and taught himself the fundamentals of photography, taking it apart to see how everything functioned. From then on he progressed to a Pentax and finally graduated to Nikon during his college years. He studied photography at West Surrey College of Art and Design from 1979 -1982 taking the Professional Qualification Exam for British Photographers, and in 1985 he gained a further degree in Photographic Media at Harrow.
Tim continued to use the Nikon brand, and as he began working in the photographic profession, he found himself surrounded by Nikon. FM bodies and Nikkor lenses were available for use in his first job as a medical photographer, and when he began working for the Welsh Folk Museum shortly afterwards, he purchased Nikon FM2s, the FM2 becoming the preferred camera for his personal work. He currently uses a D100, and is about to up-grade to the D200. His most favoured lenses are the 18-35mm and the 70-300mm Nikkors.