Sam Buckle - 100 Journal
I first took Sam’s portrait at Castle-An-Dinas near his home in Fraddon in January 2016. His was the second portrait I took for my 100 portraits project. I clearly remember him saying to me after I took the shot, “oh, only 98 more to go then” and for some reason, that number sounded far greater than the 100 I had set out to do and I genuinely wondered what I’d set myself up for.
It was partly the changes that Sam had made in his life since then that inspired me to revisit some of my original 100 portrait subjects. So I decided to start by catching up with him on a windy March morning on the North Cornish coast. As I approached the National Trust carpark at Trevose Head near Padstow, I caught a glimpse of his pastel green Land Rover 110 in the far corner.
He’d spent the night here, in a gale of wind and lashing rain with the eerie intermittent glow of the lighthouse for company. After I shot his portrait, we made for The Cornish Arms at St Merryn to get out of the wind and have a catch up over coffee.
Sam has made some pretty big life changes in the last two years:
“I sold my house in the summer of 2017. I had bought the Land Rover in the July of that year and got it ready to move into by the end of August. I spent my first night in it at Castle an Dinas, where you took my first portrait. It was a hot weekend, the Bank Holiday weekend I think it was and I woke up there with the sunrise”
How was your first night?
“Awesome! I just went, yep, this is 100% the right thing to do, I knew within minutes. I always knew that it would be. In the last few years, I’ve been to friends' weddings and I often camped over. At one particular wedding in Snowdonia, I woke up and went for a swim in the lake. I looked around me and thought to myself, I don’t need anything more than what I have in this tent. The only thing missing was Gio (the Hound) who was at home. I don’t need any more possessions. I came home and looked at all my stuff in my house and thought, what is all this stuff? I don’t need it. The best thing I’ve ever done was move into the van. I have my camera kit with me and it’s opened up so many opportunities for me to film stuff I would never have been able to before.”
You spent a few months in Scotland in the Autumn, what were you filming during this time?
“I’ve got about 3TB (roughly 200 hours) of footage from Scotland which is why I’ve not headed back up there yet. It’s mostly of wildlife but also of myself, the hound and the Land Rover which means it’s more versatile when submitting footage to BBC Springwatch for the segment at the end of their programmes. I can prove I’m willing to sit out in temperatures of -15˚c for a couple of days filming otters not getting paid, so I’m hoping some of it will get picked up by the BBC. Thanks to social media, it’s almost as much about the cameraman doing the filming these days as much as it is the wildlife.
I’ve got enough footage to make six 3 to 5 minute episodes which will all be delivered to the BBC. I also really want to slow it all right down and produce one long slow 30 minute episode with a Scandi-inspired soundtrack scored by a friend of mine.
I’m so hyper and talk so much when I’m around people, but my residual self, I am so happy and content in my own company. I don’t even dwell on things too much. In Scotland, I realised a whole week had gone by and I’d only spoken to other people for a total of about 10 minutes - it was amazing, genuinely amazing.”
What comes next?
“I was meant to be heading back up to Scotland in May to film the killer whales but they turned up four weeks ago. I need to get a permit for Shetland so I can swim with them, no one has done that in Shetland yet. Thanks to Google Earth, I’ve worked out where I’m going to get in the water to film them. They’re such specific feeders that it’s ok to be in the sea with them, we’re not their food. They just eat fish, from stingrays to small seals, but not humans. It’ll still be absolutely petrifying to be in there with them, but, it’ll be fun I reckon!”
You can follow Sam’s adventures on Instagram at Land Rover & Hound