Grace Kate Niemen is a photographer and sociology student at Aberystwyth University, who is inspired by the rural landscape, both in Wales where she studies and on her various travels around the British countryside. Read Grace's contribution to ‘Stories within Our Isles’, an article on her love for the natural environment and getting into photography, plus her charming collection of photographs that capture the landscape and it's features that inspirit her so much.
My interest lie in how society impacts the land and environment around us, an interest that one-day I hope will turn into a life-long career. As for the majority of my photographs, I take them for two fundamental reasons; one to enjoy being in the outdoors, and secondly, simply to remember it; a wonderful way of remembering how it made me feel when I was there. The countryside is something that I have grown up with, somewhere where I spend a lot of time with my family. I particularly enjoy taking photographs of the mountains, the sea, coastlines and fields, and their features like old rural cottages, as they can be so characterful. I love taking photographs of these areas as they remind me of home, and where I have spent a lot of time in. I've spent many weekends in the Lake District and Scotland, two places that are rich with beautiful landscapes.
I am from Yorkshire, and I grew up in a little village called Baildon. Baildon has moors and scenery all around, and growing up surrounded by the countryside was truly inspiring. It's what I know and love. My sister and me always played outside amid the grassy fields and looming trees, especially around my grandparents house that has a great view of roaming fields and the Yorkshire dry stone walls. Nature has a lot of scope for the imagination and I think that's why I like taking photographs of it, as there are so many ways you can go about it. When you know an area well, it is always nice to see it change through the seasons, how aspects like textures and colours change remarkably quickly.
I have always loved walking as well, exploring new places I haven't been and landscapes I haven't crossed. When I go for a walk, I always wonder what's beyond that hill? Or, what's over there in the distance? I can walk and walk and see things I haven't seen before, and taking a camera with me is the perfect way of capturing that experience. I would often use my phone to take photos to show my family back home, but recently I have started using my Nikon DSLR camera and film photography. My grandma, Kate, gifted her old film camera to me, an Olympus Trip 35. It's so wonderfully inspiring using film photography. Whenever I take a photograph on film, I feel I am creating something of a time capsule, capturing a moment in time that hopefully other people, such as my family, will see later down the line. I want them to see the countryside, how it looked for me, is very important.
Since starting university, I've noticed when living in a seaside town you can get some cracking characters, from elderly men who look like sailors straight from a pirates ship, to people with turquoise hair to match the sea! So, when I am back in Wales, I hope to start taking some portraits of these amazing people I meet during my time in Aberystwyth.
The Joys of Exploring
Photographs & Words by Grace Kate Niemen | @gracekateniemen