Riviera People – Chris Slack, Brixham’s Storm Chaser

Posted by: on Apr 30, 2015 | No Comments

Brixham’s Storm Chaser

Well-known Brixham photographer, Chris Slack talks to Anita Newcombe about the attraction of storm-force weather conditions, moonlit beaches at midnight and sunrise over the sea – all to get the perfect shot.

When I met Chris Slack at his home in Brixham he had already been out to St Mary’s Bay early that morning to watch the sunrise and capture some new images. “It was great weather today and there was a fishing day boat coming in just as the sun came up – gorgeous!”

C Slack1For Chris, the weather and the changing seasons are his livelihood. Starting photography at the age of 14 with a pocket camera he got his first ‘proper camera’ at 17, a Chinon CE4 SLR and has always been entirely self-taught.

Photographing air shows in the early days gave Chris a taste for getting photos that can’t be repeated and his love of action photography has also led to him becoming a great supporter of the RNLI in Brixham. Chris said, “I’ve seen Mother Nature at her worst, though for me it’s her best and most dramatic. The RNLI crews can get called out at any time of the day or night. On a cold winter’s night the waves could be crashing against Berry Head and the conditions atrocious and the crews repeatedly risk their lives to rescue total strangers.”

But Chris is no stranger to treacherous weather; actively heading out when the conditions keep the rest of us firmly tucked up at home. He reckons he can outstay most photographers in the fiercest storms due to the quality of his foul weather gear, covering himself warmly from head to toe with only a slit for his eyes. This March the wind chill was down to minus 4 degrees and he was still out. “I’m prepared for the winter onslaught. You’ve got to stay next to the camera in the full force of the weather – there’s no way round it. As soon as you turn your back, that’s when the giant wave will appear and you’ll miss it.”

I asked Chris about his photography business and the sort of photographs that people like to buy. “I’m living the dream,” he says. “What I love to photograph, storms, moonlight on the beach, sunrises and sunsets – they all sell well and create a livelihood for me.”

Chris does paint a tempting picture of his professional life. ‘Sometimes it’s just the experience of being completely on your own,” he says. There have been some amazing times like when I was at Churston Cove at midnight watching the moonlight and an owl appeared and was flying around my head. The place and the silence is really special and it feels like a real privilege to be there.”

As well as a flair for photography, it seems that you need a real dedication to get the dramatic shots in difficult conditions that Chris regularly achieves. “The trick is to look at your results and seek ways to improve. I’m never satisfied. When I’m out, I’m constantly moving around to look for a great shot. I can cover half of Brixham in one evening!”

C Slack 2Chris shows me some of his favourite photographs and I find myself trying to imagine where he was standing when he captured huge waves crashing over Brixham Breakwater and how cold and wet he must have been. “And sometimes I don’t even get what I’m after,” he says. During the recent electrical storm Chris was out most of the night and failed to get that perfect shot he wanted. If there’s a meteorite shower expected, you’ll probably find Chris on the watch at Berry Head.

Chris reveals that his success as a photographer wouldn’t have been possible without the unswerving support of his wife, Sue who helps in the business, packing up the framed and unframed prints for sale and managing the suppliers. “Sue has a great eye for what people will like and we really work as a team.”

The main gallery for Chris’s work is at the delightful Breakwater Bistro in Brixham and there are a number of other outlets including the wonderfully located Guardhouse Café at Berry Head National Nature Reserve. You can also find Chris throughout the season at Brixham Art and Craft Market every Saturday from Easter to October. He also appeared at Brixham’s Christmas Market and will be at Candlelit Dartmouth (6-7 December).

Chris regularly supports RNLI in Brixham with volunteer photography and said, “It’s so important not to forget the RNLI at Christmas, they do such amazing work and their shop in Middle Street Brixham is well worth a visit.”


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