An inspiration of a family kind…

Inspiration … we all have used it at some point in our lives whether we wanted it in the first place or not. Is it the way we learn? As children we copy so that we can learn. As adults we are taught so we can learn and you wont learn aything without trying. Lets check out the word for starters:


  1. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.
  2. The condition of being so stimulated.
  3. Something, such as a sudden creative act or idea, that is inspired
  4. Divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind.

My photography is inspired; it always has been and it always will be. I have touched on this before in a page called Photography | The right way or the wrong way in my blog but not in any great depth. One of the things I learned from inspiration is that its fine to keep ideas to yourself and be selective who is privy to that information; but that’s not me. I am not that kind of person. I love to share and I have never looked at myself in the mirror and once thought “Mark, you are so mean and selfish“. This is where my roots in photography really began.


Father & Son on the summit of Black Combe 1984

My grandfather, the late John Brian Winterbourne was a fantastic photographer, an artist but a traditionalist too. However, where does it say that tradition cannot stop you been great at what you do. It would be rude to compare us now because I have evolved in to ME. Through education and watching, through listening and learning and more importantly through a passion in what I do, I have become something I am almost happy with. The subjects I photograph would never have been on his agenda. Not because he couldn’t, but because that wasnt his enjoyment. Landscapes were his forte, and I know why; because my god he was bloody good at it. Countless times he was asked to give presentations and shows and did them without second thought to taking it further. Numerous times his pictures appeared in publications, in particular the monthly produced “Cumbria” magazine, he was even asked to supply the front cover and images for the internal pages on more than one instance. I would like to say a huge thank you to Kev Hopkinson from for taking the time to go through the companies archives and send me the relevant images.

His work was breath-taking; and looking back he should have done so much more with his photography than he did. He was definitely a contender for a professional photographers job. He was a soldier, a workman and a foreman, but most of all he was my granddad. A granddad that I could count on for information, someone I shared my passion with and who appreciated my input too. Someone I would never forget. Visiting my grand-parents when I was little was boring; there was nothing to do as a five-year old except play in the garden. If it was raining the options werent limited, they were non existent. It wasnt just that, everything seemed untouchable. It all looked so new and well looked after. The main living room was locked and contained my granddads’ hi-fi system…a Bang & Oulfsen if I recall. There was absolutely no entertainment for a young boy and all my parents did was talk to them. Their house was a traditional semi-detached property in a small suburb of Bradford and situated in an enclosed crescent which contained thirty middle class properties. This was great for playing out and kicking a ball, but when your friends are at home it’s not always that easy to get along as an outsider. I often use to sit on the doorstep in the sun with a sketch pad and a couple of drawing pencils and pretend to be my granddad. He was so good at drawing, painting and anything arty. I suppose it was quite normal for a young lad to copy a peer, but that’s what I did. Looking back that’s where I learned to draw and in any artists eyes that was the beginning.

The picture above shows my grandfather and my father on the summit of Black Combe in 1984. This was one of his favourite viewpoints in the whole of Cumbria. I remember that year really well. It was the year he bought me my first Single Lens Reflex Camera. He was good friends with Mr RJ Robertson of Robertsons Chemist & Imaging, Otley Road, Bradford and walking through the doorway my granddad was greeted with a knowing smile. This was all very exciting and I can clearly recall him loading my first roll of Agfa CT-18 slide film in to my new camera. There is more on this subject here

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My grandfather sadly passed away in 2004 at the age of 85. He had not been too well in the weeks before but at the time it was the last thing we expected. It was a very sad time for us all, in particular for my grandmother. For me, I had lost my granddad, my pal and my buddy but as a photographer, I felt I had lost my mentor and my guide. Every piece of knowledge he had with regards to his photography he had poured in to me. From that moment on, when I took photographs I knew in my heart and mind that his spirit was with me on every up coming photo session. I have never professed to have needed that faith, but once or twice in tricky situations I have thought twice and said the words in my head..” Come on granddad, what would you have done?”

Over the last 32 years I have photographed many subjects; everything from medical injuries to empty boxes, aircraft to volcano craters and street cleaners to professional footballers. I have spent money, made money and I have lost it too. I have had the easiest of photo-shoots where I have just turned up and done my job and left. I have the hardest photo-jobs too; where the challenges have reared their ugly heads at the last-minute in their abundance, putting my knowledge to the test. Occasionally trial and error has taken over but my mentor and prodigy was stood by my shoulder, to guide me, to advise me. The knowledge of his presence was always just enough to get me through. So, for the next time I can learn, I can prepare and be ready for the very same eventuality and have no fear of the challenge that then lay ahead. For you granddad, my inspiration, you will never be forgotten.

My Dear Grandfather

My dear grandfather, a wonderful man,
Always believed in me, knew that I can.
Wisdom of life, openly shared,
Comforted me, when I was scared.

My dear grandfather, routinely amaze,
Since I was little, you gladly helped raise.
Countless things, with patience you taught,
You listened to me, whenever I thought.

My dear grandfather, I truly care,
You’ve always been, much more than fair.
I’d like to wish you, only the best,
With the dearest grandfather, I have been blessed.

An inspiration to me.

Dedciated to Mr John Brian Winterbourne (1919-2004)

  1. i have not seen these photos before but they are superb.
    the one of the river lazy in haverigg appears to show the the boat on the left, which i believe is “the badger” from whitehaven. it was still moored there this year
    i will look forward to more wonderful photos in the future best wishes marilyn and dave

  2. They are scans from the Cumbria Magazine, they very kindly sent them too me. My grandad would have been so happy

  3. Fantastic post about your Granddad mate! Sounds like such a fascinating guy and his work – as you say WOW!

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