Behind the cover: Fern Leigh Albert

This brooding stone circle on the wilds of Dartmoor was the cover photo of our first issue, captured by someone who lives in a wooden cabin on the edge of a wood.

 Scorhill Stone Circle, Dartmoor: Fern Leigh Albert

Scorhill Stone Circle, Dartmoor: Fern Leigh Albert

Tell us the story behind the cover photo.

On the day I shot the cover image, it was a crisp January day and the sky was changing fast.

Scorhill stone circle is a mystical place. It’s surrounded by stark moorland and surprisingly large in circumference and stone. I've been to many stone circles but this one beats them all. In fact it’s known as the Stonehenge of Dartmoor. One of my favourite folklore stories about the stones tells of a fierce ogre who used to live there, they say he had a passion for sheep and any that strayed near would be killed, butchered and eaten.

I used a medium format Bronica SQ-A. It's pretty heavy and highly unpractical but I find it does what it's told and produces more organic imagery. Something that lends itself well to my subject matter, which often involves landscapes, parts of animals and greenery.

How you did get into photography?

Taking pictures hasn't been a lifelong obsession, it's just something I always did. It wasn’t until my grandfather died that I started to take it more seriously; he was a photographer and a great inspiration to me.

What else inspires you?

I live in a 32-acre woodland on the edge of Dartmoor. I’m surrounded by nature and birdsong. This itself is hugely inspiring but the people around me continue to be a massive source of inspiration, too, whether it’s seeing people healed by hedgerow herbs, learning about bird anatomy or animal husbandry. It’s all incredibly wholesome and real, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Any exciting projects for 2014?

Yes, I've just been awarded some funding from the Arts Charity Ideastap to complete a series of work later on in the year. It’s based in South West Ireland and focuses on the mediative quality of nature. It will involve time spent in remote places, although I can't tell you too much because it will ruin the surprise.

Where would you like to go, anywhere in the world, and why?

Aaah, there are so many places I’d like to visit. As a child I wanted to go to the land at the top of the Faraway Tree, then to the moon and later the Serengeti. I’ve never visited any of these places but making imagery gives me the possibility to create any world I like. I guess that’s what’s exciting about being a photographer, the possibilities are endless.

Finish the following sentence. I have never...

…wanted a ‘real’ job.

What's on your bedside table?

Sitting next to my bed is a head-torch, a hot water bottle, an old copy of The British Journal of Photography and a couple of tatty books; Ekhart Tolle’s Stillness Speaks and The Summer Book by Moomin creator Tove Jansson.

I’m particularly fond of The Summer Book; it tells the story of a grandmother and her granddaughter who spend their summer on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland. It’s a beautiful tale of their simple adventures. They discuss things that affect them both, like life, death, the nature of God and love:

“Gathering is peculiar, because you see nothing but what you're looking for. If you're picking raspberries, you see only what's red, and if you're looking for bones you see only the white. No matter where you go, the only thing you see is bones.”

You can read about Fern's extraordinary life in humble wooden dwellings on the edge of Dartmoor and see more of her spell-binding photography in issue one, on sale now. 

fernleighalbert.com