Lewis James Phillips


Q and A with large format photographer Ben Horne

So in the last couple of years of being absorbed into large format I have been researching great photographer’s from the past until now. One person’s work i really love is Ben Horne. Having spent my younger years traveling the Western States places like Nivarda and Utah hold a very strong place in my soul. Bens large format work is captervating and to be honest he is a really nice chap, willing to help others with his great you tube channel. Ben was more than happy to do a Q and A for the blog of which I am very thankful. It was great to catch up on zoom and i hope one day to bump into him in Zion. Here is Ben thoughts on all things photo and life, you will also see two images from his recent works of which i cant wait to see. Question 1

What are your targets for the next 2 years in respect of projects and personal achievements.
In many ways, more of the same. Although it would appear on the surface that I revisit the same locations again and again, there is so much to see and to explore in these places. Even a relatively small national park like Zion has so much to see. One could spend a lifetime there and still not explore it all. I view my photography trips a bit like the structure of a tree. Starting from the ground up, each trip pushes a bit further into the location, branching and dividing, exploring lesser and lesser visited areas. Not only does this allow me to find great subjects off the beaten path, I also learn so much about these locations in the process of doing so.
Question 2

Is there any particular equiptment that you are hoping to purchese this year, and why do you need it.
The beauty of shooting large format is that the cameras and lenses are so very simple. Once your kit is established, there is very little desire to buy anything new. That being said, I do have a new 8×10 camera on the way, a Chamonix Alpinist X, a lightweight alternative to my Arca-Swiss F Metric 8×10 which has been my primary camera since 2017. I have several friends who have purchased this camera and swear by it, so I figured I might as well see what all the hype is about. It will be my go-to backpacking camera and also a backup for my Arca-Swiss.
Question 3

Like me have you noticed that since the pandemic there seems to be more rubbish spoiling the landscape, and if so do you think there are just more people venturing out into local locations they would have not bothered to go to in the past.
This was definitely true during the early days of the pandemic. Here in the States, many of the national parks remained open, but were largely unstaffed. It was during this time that most of the bad behavior took place: primarily littering and vandalism. My autumn 2020 visit to Zion was a tough one. With all the trash and vandalism, it was difficult to find peace in nature, so I spent many of my evenings walking along the road with a large trash bag and a trash grabber to clean it all up. Most of what I picked up that year was toilet paper. One year later, during October of 2021, the same park was very clean. Park officials did a fantastic job cleaning up the litter, vandalism, and were proactive to mitigate the threat of it in the future.
Question 4

Why Zion, are you from the region or do you just have a real burning in the soul for this enviroment.
Proximity is key. Although Zion is an 8 hour drive from my home, it’s still one of the closest national parks to where I live. Only Joshua Tree and Death Valley are closer. The other reason is  the scenery itself—it’s so very different from where I live, and you can remain productive all day long. On days with harsh sun, the narrow canyons are filled with beautiful light, and the maples, ponderosa pines, and rolling hills of sandstone make for amazing subjects. There is so much to photograph, and it changes quite a bit from year to year. I’ve visited every fall since 2009, and now I visit during the winter as well. It’s such a beautiful location.
Question 5

If not Zion what would be your next location and why.
With spring now approaching, I have my eyes on my next trip, a backpacking trip to the canyons of southern Utah. Several hours east of Zion lies the town of Escalante Utah, the gateway to an amazing region filled with flowing water and countless canyons big and small. This is an area I love to explore, away from people where I can have entire canyons to myself. This year I plan to return to a familiar canyon, then branch off and explore some new canyons as well. It will be fun to use the new Chamonix camera on those hikes.
Question 6
What is your favorte food to cook and what would you wash it down with.
I am quite possibly the worst cook on the planet. Thankfully my wife is an amazing cook, though in that sense, it’s impossible to pick a favorite dish. If there’ s a choice beverage in our house, it’s aggressively carbonated water. Very aggressive. So aggressive that when you drink it, the carbonation burns the back of your throat. I get food-grade CO2 from the local welding supply store and we carbonate the water ourselves. Nothing store-bought is as aggressive as we would like.
Question 7

Does music inspire you, myself when editing I love to listen to John Barry, you must try if not.
I’ve been on a John Mayer kick lately. His album “Born and Raised” and “Paradise Valley” have been on repeat a lot while going for walks and on my recent trip to Zion. Something about the music goes well with the landscape.
Question 8

Do you go to Zion just to pass through Vegas on the way there and back. Casino, beer and Elvis impersonators.
Truth be told, I pass through Vegas as quick as possible without stopping, not even for gas. I make sure to top off my tank before reaching Las Vegas. When I was driving home from Zion on my recent winter trip, I left the campground at about 2am local time, and drove through Vegas well before sunrise. I love those early morning drives, especially since I can avoid traffic in otherwise congested areas.
Question 9

What is your sports team and why.
Quite honestly, I’m not a fan of sports at all. I mean, San Diego isn’t exactly much of a sports town to begin with, but to me at least, it seems like following sports would only take time away from the other things I enjoy in life. A few years back, my wife and I discovered that Superbowl Sunday is a great day to go have dinner somewhere or go out on the town since it’s basically a ghost town.
Question 10

If you were to visit the UK name one location that you would choose to visit in each country and why. England,Wales, Scotland, N Ireland.
I don’t know as much about the UK as I really should, but the rugged and remote areas of Scotland really appeal to me. I love going places where there’s a lot to explore, where you can lose yourself in the landscape, and where you can have the place to yourself. That being said, I know the weather over there can be quite challenging at times, especially when it comes to wind, so it might not be especially productive with an 8×10 cameras that acts more as a sailboat than a camera. Perhaps at some point though!
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