In Conversation: Photographer Clive Nichols Captures a Modern Mediterranean

An insightful interview with award winning photographer Clive Nichols about his wow-worthy snappings of modern architecture in the Mediterranean, capturing the Prince of Wales’s private garden and these never before seen photographs of late Italian architect Paolo Pejrone's Argentario Garden House in Italy.

A 25 year career has taken photographer Clive Nichols across a variety of fields, from his study of human geography as a student at Reading University (UK), to working as an Italian chef, to the economically inviable field of travel photography, to the economically viable field of gardening photography.  His photos have captured the key elements of Mediterranean living and the inspiring scenery of the region—fog lying over a sparkling sea at dawn, rolling Greek hillsides bathed in an afternoon’s endless sun, a cloud-strewn horizon overlaying the canvas of a crystalline sky at sunset—refined with modern elements like deck chairs and wrap around pools that dot, and personalize, this simultaneously modern and traditional region.

A multilateral heritage, the result of the combined pressures of three continents, converge upon the Mediterranean and give the area a complex and unique dynamic.  While some architects embraced a single heritage and promulgated it throughout their work, others took a radical opposition to the traditional.  Today, along the coasts of Southern Spain, North Africa, Greece, and the Côte d’Azur, lie prime examples of the work of such rising architects as Alberto Campo de Baeza and Carlos Ferrater, in a region constantly evolving under the sway of differing vernaculars, aesthetic dialogues, and shifting identities.  Nichols’ photos capture this modern demographical landscape as much as the geographical one upon which it is transposed, and KNSTRCT interviews the photographer on his professional, and personal, development as an artist, and his perspective on this archetypal gorgeous area of the globe.

K: Clive, could you describe the path you traveled to what you’re doing now?

I studied Human Geography at Reading University in the UK and whilst there I worked as a chef—saving money so that I could travel. This is when my interest in photography outdoors was sparked. After uni, I worked as a chef in an Italian restaurant, becoming head chef. For two years I worked day and night and decided that it was not the life for me so I switched immediately to travel photo-journalism. However within a year I realized that I could not make a living out of travel photography and I realized that there were a lot of magazines on gardening—so I switched to that and have never looked back.

Q: Can you tell us about the photographs of modern structures that you have taken in the Mediterranean? Do you feel a modern aesthetic complements Mediterranean landscapes well?

CN: Some modern structures do work well with the Mediterranean landscape. Both Paolo Pejrone in Tuscany, Italy  and Thomas Doxiadis in Anti Paros, Greece for example have blended built structures beautifully into the surrounding landscape, enhancing the aesthetic look of the natural and man-made landscape.

K: What has been your favorite place to photograph in the Mediterranean?

CN: Definitely Provence—I go there again and again—I am drawn by the sheer beauty of the landscape—especially the Luberon and Les Alpilles—coupled with the amazing light and stability of the weather.

K: You have been a professional photographer for over 25 years. How have you watched the photography industry evolve/change during that time? Any thoughts on that evolution?

CN: The industry has changed massively. When I started out everyone was using film and that made it hard to be a good garden photographer as you had no idea how pictures were going to turn out until you processed them. Today everyone has a digital SLR and taking pictures has become much easier—so to stay at the top of my profession I have to work harder than ever before. The supply of images onto the market increases every day—driving down prices for stock photographs.

K: What has been the highest personal moment of your career?

CN: Last year when I was chosen by Country Life magazine to photograph HRH The Prince of Wales’s own private garden, Birkhall, in Scotland.

Photography by Clive Nichols

Keep up with Clive here