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Father and son put Shropshire in the frame with book

By Toby Neal | News | Published:

Getting that perfect sunrise picture needs the right light, a bit of luck – and a really early start.

Walkers enjoy the view from Grinshill Hill

So Mike Hayward leaves those ones to son John.

"John does the early ones where you get up at 3.30am and go up a hill somewhere. I'm too old. I was 70 two weeks ago. And then there's the stuff he has to carry around with him. His backpack weighs two stone. If I had that on I would fall over backwards," said Mike.

John and Mike

Their photographic teamwork has now reached fruition with a book of stunning images taken across the county, called A Year In Shropshire.

"We've been doing these pictures of Shropshire for some time, me in particular. John has been doing it for four years, and I've been doing it all my life really. It's a curse. You can't stop once you start," said Mike, who has a background in press photography.

Together the pair run the Shropshire and Beyond photographic website library, which has thousands of images, and it led to them getting the idea for this, their first book.

Time for a snack at Burwarton Show

"We thought, let's put a book proposal in and see if anybody is interested. We did, to Merlin Unwin, and they took us up like a shot."

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The book contains more than 160 images spanning the seasons although despite the title they were not all taken in the same calendar year, some of them having been taken some years ago.

"The whole thing is weather dependent. It's a nightmare to be honest. You never know what the weather is going to do.

"We have tried to spread the book over the whole county. There are a lot of books which concentrate on the south of the county, but we have places like Ellesmere and Whitchurch."

The Shrewsbury skyline in a picture taken from Haughmond Hill

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As to what spurs him on, Mike said: "It's being out there, hopefully in nice weather, seeing such a beautiful county in front of you. It's almost like a mission to capture it.

"John uses Nikon equipment, in particular a long lens, which is how you get pictures like the Shrewsbury skyline which was taken from Haughmond Hill, quite a long way off. I use Fuji cameras which are much lighter and smaller."

All the pictures were taken digitally.

John, who is 31, started doing photography with his dad in March 2012. Before that, he says, he did some mind-numbing office jobs.

He does not mind being the one who does the getting up early.

A lamb gambols in the snow on the Stiperstones

"I have trouble getting to sleep because I'm so excited. It's like Christmas," he said.

"You never know what you are going to get. A few days ago I did a picture at Caradoc. The forecasts were good, the sun came up, and I had it for 10 minutes and then the only cloud in the sky blocked it for 40 minutes. It was heartbreaking.

"But that's rare.Usually you are quite lucky, with lovely golden light."

Mike has had an interest in photography from an early age and his first job was with the Shropshire Star in 1964 even before the paper had started printing, but his "photographic job" on the paper was not quite what he expected.

"I discovered it was not photography as such at all. I was an apprentice camera operator and my job was photographing pages."

After five years the chief photographer Johnnie Johnson, knowing young Mike's interest, told him there was a photographer's job going on the Bridgnorth Journal, and suggested he applied.

"I did, and got the job, having never been a press photographer before. My first job was the Bridgnorth Walk with Melvyn Morgan (a Journal reporter who became a longserving stalwart)."

Mike later had another press photographer job in Reading, before returning to Shropshire and working as a photographer for the Shropshire Star's sister paper, the Express & Star, for 23 years.

The book was a real family affair as Mike's wife Lynne, a journalist, wrote the captions.

A Year In Shropshire by Mike and John Hayward

A Year In Shropshire is hardback and published by Merlin Unwin Books of Ludlow. It has 192 pages and costs £20.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of the county?s history. Lives in Telford and based at the paper?s Ketley headquarters.

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