Andrew Okey (English, 1986, Grizedale) has worked at the University for 22 years, undertaking a variety of roles including Principal of Grizedale College. Over the last few years his reputation as a landscape photographer has grown to the point where his work has become a viable commercial concern, one which he shares with his wife Diane (also a Lancaster graduate and employee, and a skilled glassware and jewellery maker).
Like many Lancaster graduates, Andrew chose the University (and then chose to stay on after graduation) partly because of the beautiful surroundings. “I grew up in the flatlands of East Yorkshire, so was always drawn to the idea of living amongst hills and mountains. Being at the University has allowed me to get to know the Lake District intimately and in great detail, and my time in the fells refreshes and enriches me, as well as giving me the chance to pursue my photographic vision”.
“I’m essentially a guerrilla photographer. I seldom pre-prepare a shot, or spend long hours in one place waiting for the light to change. Instead, my approach is organic, a natural extension of my fell walking. I stay on the move and take what the landscape offers me. My intention is to capture those unpredictable, magical flashes of extreme beauty and power that are the gift of chance, and to reflect my emotional reaction to those moments”.
Perhaps Andrew’s proudest moment was being commissioned by his college to produce a series of images of Grizedale Forest to adorn the walls of the College bar. “I tend to produce epic, colour images, so doing more intimate, monochrome, pictures meant having to re-learn my trade from scratch. Still, it’s good to be challenged, and I was honoured to be given the task of replacing the iconic mural that had hung in the bar until its recent refurbishment”.
Andrew has exhibited his work extensively, and his cards sell briskly, both online and in shops around the North West. Each card includes a detailed description of the landscape pictured, often coupled with Andrew’s reflections on his own experience of, or reaction to, the moment captured. These descriptions are, he thinks, “my USP, but not a gimmick – I want people who buy my cards to enjoy the beautiful images but also to get a strong sense of this landscape and my love for it. After all, it was that love that drew me first to Lancaster, and has kept me here ever since”.
Take a look at Andrew's new website