TGT Meets... Peter Aitchison
From Big Breakfast photographer capturing the stars to now spectacular travel photographer, we caught up with Peter Aitchison to learn about his incredible career and upcoming solo show.
Where is home and why?
Whaley Bridge, in Derbyshire’s High Peak, about 20 miles from the city centre. I like the peace there but love having Manchester on the doorstep.
Describe your style of photography in one sentence.
I’m not interested in forcing a photograph; instead I decide where in the world I want to explore and then wander around until something catches my eye.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Opening my gallery, Gallery 23, in New Mills.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Portraits are a favourite of mine and I love sitting down with the subject and chatting while the pic is taken. Even if that means sitting in a puddle during a Delhi monsoon.
And what about the most challenging?
Working in some very harsh environments. As part of a five week trip to India, I was looking to capture some less obvious views of the Taj Mahal. Having trudged over mountains of waste, knee deep in filth, with a scarf wrapped around my face, inhaling peppermint essence to stop me from gagging, I spotted the shot. Wading through stagnant water to point my lens at just the right angle, I thought I had it. I didn’t. The image was passable, but nothing special. And I ended up with Salmonella poisoning from the dirty water, which must have been contaminated with faeces. I’ve never been so ill in my life and I don’t know how I managed to drag myself onto the plane, or to convince the airport officials I was well enough to fly. I’d do it again though.
What are your goals for the future?
To continue to travel, but to places not normally seen
What made you move from photographing celebrities to your striking travel portraiture and street photography?
I was fed up and bored by the celeb circus and I finally worked out what and how I wanted to photograph. It is very liberating to be shooting for me and not for someone else’s agenda. And it’s only since I made that decision that I feel like a photographer.
Have you got a favourite photo(s) that you have ever taken?
I think that has to be a portrait - Pushkar Man (as shown at the bottom).
If you could do it all again, would you do anything differently?
Yes. I would start travel photography 20 years earlier.
How do you like to spend your time off?
I’m not sure I ever really have time off. But I do watch a lot of football. Sorry Manchester, I am a Chelsea fan, but I go to either City or United games whenever I get the chance. I played in my dim and distant pass and was distinctly average.
Are there any locations across Manchester that you think are great for photography?
I really like The Northern Quarter but it is sad to see so much of it disappearing.
Where’s your favourite place to eat out in Manchester?
Any of the great curry cafes in Northern Quarter. But my absolute favourite has to be chicken tikka, a veg curry and a naan from Al Faisal Tandoor on Thomas Street.
Who is your favourite famous Mancunian?
Caroline Aherne. She was an amazing talent and a great loss.
Describe Manchester in three words:
Vibrant. Happening. Brill.
Finally, where can people see your work?
Peter Aitchison, 18th May - 1st June 2019, Gateway Gallery, 116 Ashley Road, Hale, Greater Manchester WA14 2UN gateway-gallery.co.uk