In Ray’s Footsteps

© 2010, Peter Marshall

I’ve been away for a few days having a short holiday with family and friends and away too from computers, staying at a house in the middle of Cumbria away from wireless hotspots. Of course I could have connected from many of the places we visited, but I rather enjoy having a few days away from the Internet now and then.

© 2010, Peter Marshall
Between Allonby and Maryport

My first photographic mentor was Raymond Moore (1920–1987) who I came to know through a series of photographic workshops with him and Paul Hill at Paul’s ‘Photographers Place’ in Derbyshire. Shortly after I met him, he retired from formal teaching in the Midlands in 1978 to live and photograph on the Solway Firth, where he produced some of his finest work, some of which can be seen in his ‘Every So Often’ published in 1983.

© 2010, Peter Marshall

It’s hard for me not to think of the Cumbrian coast as ‘Ray Moore Country’ and although I wasn’t expecting to see large ‘Welcome’ signs proclaming this as I was driven to the coast, it was perhaps strange not to see any mention of him and his work in the many tourist leaflets and several information centres we visited during the week. Perhaps his work is very much at odds with how the Cumbrian Tourist Board want to promote the area, but in a hundred years or so they may erect a blue plaque on those houses in Silloth or next to that washing line in Allonby to match that on the nearby inn commemorating the stay there of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. Dickens did praise the local shrimps (doubtless then less radio-active) though he found some of the other local towns which also celebrate his visits less pleasing, but so far as I’m aware the area failed to inspire him creatively.

© 2010, Peter Marshall

I don’t know what Ray thought of the shrimps or the kippers, but he created a considerable body of work in the area on both sides of the Solway Firth, finding inspiration in the light and openness of these liminal areas, and in particular of their changing weather. In that respect the bright and sunny days we enjoyed for most of our week there while the rest of the country was experiencing heavy rainstorms was perhaps disappointing, though in other ways I was very glad of it.

© 2010, Peter Marshall

It was the first time I’d actually visited the area and I  hadn’t gone there to “do a Ray Moore” but to have a holiday, but there were times, as in some of these images, where I nodded a little to the memory of that great man, certainly one of the finest British photographers of the last century.

4 Responses to “In Ray’s Footsteps”

  1. weepingash says:

    Knowing Ray’s work well, it must be nigh on impossible for a photographer to visit that part of the country without seeing everything as if through his eyes as well as your own.
    I’ve not been there yet, but have spoken to many ‘Moore-aware’ photographers who have and all say the same thing.
    Without the accompanying article and captions, seeing these images would still have immediately brought him to mind; there’s nothing wrong with a good homage!

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    I really regret that I didn’t visit there while Ray was still alive, for various reasons.

    There were several images in my first major project (on Hull) which I’m currently sorting out as a Blurb book which very much show Ray’s influence. I did show him some of the early pictures from it, but possibly not those. But I think in general one of Ray’s great strengths as a teacher was that he was able to encourage people to develop their own approaches, unlike some other well-known photographers who tended to generate clones.

  3. John says:

    Ray ran the photographic department when I was at Watford school of art in the late sixties. As you say, he did encourage and also appreciate different approaches.
    His very informal methods did create a great sense of freedom and scope to be creative. I have also visited and explored this part of the country.

  4. peter adams says:

    I have several portraits of Raymond Moore made 6 months before he died. Contact me on

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.