Lee Frost is one of the UK’s best-known landscape and travel photographers and one of the world’s best-selling photography authors. That’s what they say anyway.
His introduction to photography came at the tender age of 15 in the form of a brick-like Soviet Zenith 35mm SLR and very quickly he realised that he had discovered his vocation - and the perfect excuse to not really work for a living, which he could never see the sense in anyway given that life’s so short.
While still a teenager his work started to appear in the UK photographic press and, as if that wasn’t reward enough, he even got paid for it. Realising that if he could repeat this process often enough, his ambition of not really working for a living might actually become a reality, he started taking more photographs. A few of them happened to be quite good.
1988 proved to be a pivotal year. Having backpacked down to Istanbul with a friend, he entered a portfolio of travel images into a competition in SLR Photography Magazine (RIP) and by some minor miracle he won. He was told later that only three people entered, but it didn’t matter because the prize was an all-expenses paid week shadowing a pro while he took the photos for the following year’s SunMed Go Turkey Holidays brochure. In Turkey, just in case you were wondering. Six months on, he was invited for an interview for the post of Features Writer on the very same magazine and by a second minor miracle (a recurring theme), was offered it, having never had a word published in his life, or even applied for the job.
Maybe they spotted something he’d missed, because he took to writing like the proverbial duck to water and his talent was quickly recognised. In 1990 he scooped a couple of awards for his technique articles and was fortunate enough to shake hands with comedian Les Dennis. Rumour has it that he hasn’t washed that hand since, whereas Lee made a beeline straight for the Gents.
Rising through the editorial ranks, he helped to launch and produce the highly successful Photo Answers magazine and eventually became its editor. Between times, he enjoyed a spell as Assistant Editor on Practical Photography, in the days when PP (as it’s fondly referred to) was selling over 100,000 copies a month. Happy days!
Then he got itchy feet, and at the ripe old age of 25, still young enough and daft enough to think that he could scrape a living while romancing the two loves of his life - taking photographs, and writing about taking photographs - he decided to go freelance.
That was 1992. Almost 20 years, 20 books, hundreds of magazine articles, hundreds of thousands of images and millions of words later, he’s still managing to hang on in there. Unlike his hair. His scribblings appear regularly in Digital SLR Photography, Black & White Photography and Amateur Photographer while his images are marketed by Robert Harding Worldwide, Getty Images, Trevillion Images, The National Trust Photographic Library, ImageState, The Travel Library and Millennium Images and have been used for everything from posters to pitta bread packaging. For the last ten years he’s also been leading sell-out photo workshops and tours around the world through his company Photo Adventures, passing on his passion for all things photographic to like-minded souls who foolishly come back time and again and actually pay money to be deprived of sleep in pursuit of the perfect image.
After so long at this game you’d imagine he’d be getting a bit bored by now. But here’s the thing - he’s more enthusiastic, more inspired, more committed to making photographs than ever before. And those photographs are better for it. The next bend in the road, the next hill, the next sunrise or sunset, the next county or country... There’s always the ‘next’ something to keep him going. And the mortgage of course.
But most important of all - it sure as hell beats working for a living!