artist · Photographers

The Digital Camera Revolution

I visited the professional landscape and wildlife photographer Robert Harvey at his home in Winterbourne Bassett this week to take a look at some early examples of his work.

Robert is at heart a landscape photographer; he loves exploring and finding ways to capture the essence of the world around him, whether it be at home, a landscape he loves and which inspires him greatly, or in other parts of the UK and overseas. He also enjoys wildlife photography, using hides and undertaking guided forays into wild locations.

This was one of Robert’s photographs used in an exhibition in 2005/6

One stipulation of the Heritage Lottery Fund is that all items acquired as part of the project must be at least 10 years old. Now, this can be quite a challenge as many creative practitioners don’t often hold on to their work, or they tell us that the best examples of their work of this age were sold long ago. Lucky for us, Robert had kept hold of some of his early work, much of which formed part of an exhibition in 2005/6. His piece of boats in Beer won an award around the same time.

View of the Alton Barnes White Horse. Interestingly, Robert told me that this photograph marked another turning point, that of changing techniques in agriculture. This was the last year that the farmer’s straw bailer produced round straw bales – the following year he moved to square ones.

This earlier work marked a turning point in Robert’s career as it sparked a move from traditional photography to digital, common with photographers at the beginning of the 21st century. I was interested to hear more about Robert’s experience with the two techniques, thinking of Dr Michael Tompsett’s recent Queen Elizabeth prize for his part in the development of the digital camera which began in the 1970s. The versatility of the digital camera has really pushed the boundaries of what is possible, creating stunning results which are a beauty to behold. With the advent of digital photography, creativity can more fully combined with artistry.

One of Robert’s latest photographs, available to purchase from his website

It has meant that professional photographers like Robert have embraced this new technology for the benefit of us all to enjoy. I have spoken to a number of photographers who now feel that their digital work is far superior to their early traditional work, but we find with our acquisitions for the Creative Wiltshire project that traditional photography has its own charm. It was always possible to manipulate images with traditional photography, but it was much more time consuming. Perhaps we should view traditional photographic prints as more unique, more true to life, but still reflective of the beauty contained within.

Robert’s work will join the Historic Photograph and Print Collection at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, stored in a climate controlled strongroom for perpetuity, catalogued and made accessible for all to enjoy for many years to come.

For more information about Robert and his photography, please visit

Julie Davis

Project Officer

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