Neil Irwin: the outdoor photographer inspiring with his perfect pictures

WE TALK to Neil Irwin about his life behind the camera while exploring some of the most beautiful parts of the world.


Neil Irwin is a photographer with a huge passion for adventure and the outdoors.

NEIL IRWIN had a passion for cameras and their capabilities from a young age.  He was inspired by the camera work he imagined taking place while watching the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and his intrigue only grew from there. 


Neil has combined his passion for the outdoors and his love of photography to build a career which is respected throughout the trade. He studied Film and Television Production at university and today predominantly works in the TV industry. He has been on adventures with his camera all around the world and has taken his perfect pictures at destinations including the Ganges and Everest Base Camp.


Here Neil talks to us in detail about his love for photography and gives us some insight into some of his most magical trips including the time paddled 1,200km onto the Ganges on a raft. Read on to find out about the adventures he has coming up and his fascination with the art of storytelling through photography.



Sophie Richmond

Neil’s close-up shot of cyclist Sophie Richmond.

When did your passion for photography begin and who was there at the beginning to support and nurture it?


I always had an interest in cameras from an early age. I remember watching the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and thinking how great it would be to be the camera operator on one of the swimming events knowing that your shot is being broadcast to billions of people around the world! It gave me a lot of interest and excitement about that thought, and so it’s from there that my passion grew. It’s still like that to this day. I get a lot of satisfaction seeing my photos in print or even content shared online where others get to view my work. It’s very gratifying. It also spurs me on to want to go out there and do more, and show the world some interesting things that they may not get to see.
I work predominantly at the moment in the TV industry with photography being a major sideline and my outlet for creativity and story telling. 
I learnt a lot of my technique at University where I studied Film and Television Production, and so shot composition was a major part of that learning process in order to be able to frame shots in an aesthetic way. From a story telling aspect though, I had to learn everything myself pretty much though. There was no one in particular who was there to help aid me, instead a lot of my work was though trial and error. It’s all one big learning process. You’re never too old to learn new techniques and hacks to help improve your own work. I’d say I know a fair few things, but I don’t know everything. But then again – does anyone?!

Another’s of Neil’s shots of cyclist Sophie Richmond.

Tell us about your love for the outdoors and where do you think that passion came from?

I’m not entirely sure. I’ve travelled around a bit, been to the US too many times compared to how much I would like to see the rest of the world. But I’ve always been in the mindset of rather being out and about in general than being stuck inside. This is now why I’m making my own camper so I can get out of the city, go and explore and go and take more photos! There’s so much of our own country that I would love to see let alone seeing other countries. I’ve been to the tips of New Zealand, yet never even done the UK!
I guess my trip to Everest Base Camp was the real big eye opener for me when I hiked there when I was about 25; seeing such a majestic land mark surrounded by such beauty with some of the most humble people you could ever meet. It just made me want to see more of the world knowing that the world is full of such amazing scenery with people from all over the world wanting to achieve their own ambitions, and so I think this mix of scenery, culture and ambition was a turning point for me – wanting to go out there and capture stories and show as many different people as I can.
From there it’s just been snowballing. I’ve travelled a little bit, but the idea of getting off the beaten track and seeing things that most tourists would not get to see is what really inspires me. This is what drove me to travelling down the Ganges in India and heading cross country in Iceland; two countries I’ve always wanted to visit, but experience in ways very few have.

Neil’s magical shot of a sunset which silhouettes stand up paddle enthusiast on a faraway shore.

What have been some of your biggest adventures outdoors and behind your camera?

Travelling to India was my biggest adventure to date. I was offered the opportunity to tag along with a team who were stand up paddle boarding the length of the Ganges from source to sea. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go for the entire journey, but I was able to get myself out there and join for a two months in my own pack raft as I did not have my own paddle board. I personally paddled about 1,200kms (in a raft that is not designed for long distance), took some amazing photos and saw some things that you would just not normally get to see being a tourist. It was a truly humbling experience yet an odd one going to a country where you’re so used to ethnic diversity but you feel like the odd one out! (Mainly because we were!)
Thae start of the trip was an adventure in itself! 5 days before setting off, I sprained my ankle! So I’m in a hostel in Delhi with my foot up for almost 2 days straight to try and get the swelling to subside so I can join the team. There was no way I was missing this opportunity as everything was all set for me to join. Then 4 days after and en route to meeting the team almost 60 miles East of Delhi (which was as close and the Ganges would get to Delhi), I damaged my foot as I was trying to nurse my right ankle! Turns out when I got home and saw a doctor, I apparently fractured my metatarsal! There’s me thinking it was just another sprain…
So there’s always adventures before you even have an adventure. Life will always throw curve balls when you least expect them. But there are also such good kind hearted people out there who will help you along the way.

One of Neil’s shots of the Ganges.

What exciting projects do you have coming up and tell us about the emphasis on story telling you would like to include in your work?

Sometimes it’s nice to just take pretty shots. Who doesn’t like to look at a lovely sunset over the mountains? 
But I guess the story really comes out if you can connect with what you’re shooting. If you can connect, relate and enjoying what ever it is you’re shooting, then this will help tell the story through your images because your passion and enthusiasm comes through and you’ll want to go that bit extra to get the shot. So I would say before you even pick up the camera, relax, enjoy and have with either yourself or with those around no matter what you’re doing. After all, you should enjoy it!
I, however, am always looking for my next projects. I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting opportunities and collaborations to get involved with. An opportunity came up to head to the Norwegian Fjords at the end of the month which is something I’ve never done, so that’ll be quite exciting. I should also be heading in to the Lake District in September to help film a small shoot with Adventurer Ian Finch, and I’m looking for my next expedition to join as an embedded photographer. Who knows what the future may hold? I’m always open to suggestions!
the Ganges

Another of Neil’s photos from the Ganges.

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