Q + A with Writer, Filmmaker, and Photographer Patrick Tillard
If Patrick doesn’t have either a camera or a fishing rod in his hand, he feels a little lost. He is passionate about capturing stories of people, their craft, and all adventure from the wildest spaces in the United Kingdom and abroad if lucky enough to get an invite.
Q: Where do you call home?
A: I am currently in Stamford, a quiet town in the Midlands of England that is seemingly stuck in time, but I have moved more times than is normal, following ambitions and hoping to be closer to the rivers I spend my more mundane days dreaming of. I was brought up in Sussex, on a beautiful farm that sits in the long shadow of the South Downs. My parents taught me how to read the land, and I spent my youth chasing rabbits with an air rifle. We spent two weeks each summer fishing for salmon in the Scottish Highlands. I fell in love with the area and go back as often as time allows. It is my home from home.
Q: Who are your main influences in the world of writing and photography and why?
A: I admire a lot of people. And while I’d like to say that I’ve always yearned to be able to craft a sentence like Hemmingway or Twain, my main influence is far closer to home. When I started in this game many moons ago, journalism and photography were merely an interest, but I was lucky enough to have one of the world’s truly great men as my first editor, a young guy called Marcus Janssen. Marcus is a captivating storyteller, and his way with the written word puts you right there in the moment. He went out of his way to enhance my interest and succeeded in turning it into a life-defining passion. I am indebted to him for the time he put into me and my work.
Q: What is your favorite place where you’ve traveled on assignment and why?
A: Kenya—three hours north of the capital Nairobi chasing wild brown trout in streams no wider than a meter. I’ve never known fishing more wild, intimate, and mesmerising. We walked for mile after mile, where no other fisherman had gone before, casting as we went, occasionally bumping into leopards, buffalo, and elephants. They were magical days.
Q: What was most memorable for you from the story about Le Chameau?
A: Without doubt, the highlight was the level of craft and the pride in the work undertaken. In a world where everything is becoming more technical and rapid, it was special to see a process that still favours the deftness of human touch.
Q: What was most memorable for you from the Lock and Co. story?
A: At Lock & Co., you can’t help but be sucked in by all of the history. And it’s right there on the walls: Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, and Oscar Wilde. Once you start to appreciate who has worn their hats and the moments in history where they’ve been present, you start to understand why Lock & Co. is such a revered British institution. Whether you want to buy a hat or not, their shop on St James Street in London is a must visit.
Q: If you have 1 day off with no obligations, what do you do?
A: I find the nearest river, throw my fishing rod and camera into my car with rude urgency, and risk a speeding fine to get to the water.
Q: Describe your creative thought process — what and how do you like to broadcast your creative writings or photography?
A: I try to find people who live quiet but interesting lives—not necessarily interesting to them, but interesting to others. These people open a door to a craft or adventure that you would otherwise never have known about. This takes time. You have to do your research, ask around, bounce off dead-ends and start again. But it’s worth the effort. As a photographer, I never look to take one great photo. I’m not good enough to do it anyway. I like to tell a story through a series of images: a story of a landscape, the people who work it, the fishing and hunting that has been practiced for year, and the wildlife that fills the hills and skies.
Q: What is your favorite outdoor adventure — hunting, fishing, motors, shooting, etc.?
A: Fishing. Fly-fishing to be precise. It is my mental and physical escape from everything modern-day life throws my way. I will do it until I can no longer lift a rod or tie a fly—whichever comes first.
Q: What is your #1 bucket-list trip or work assignment and why?
A: I’ve heard a fair bit about the incredible runs of Arctic char in the rivers in Greenland. That would be a dream trip. That scenery, that sport, that isolation—perhaps for the next issue of Covey Rise?
“A Head for Heights” written by Patrick Tillard was originally published in Volume 9, Number 1 (Dec-Jan 2021) of Covey Rise.
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