ABOUT VILLAGER JIM
So how did it all start?
In any good story, there’s always a pub involved, isn’t there. And this is how Villager Jim got his name. But let’s go back a bit further.
Jim didn’t used to take photographs. He was in a very different business, once upon a time, one that burned him out and wasn’t especially good for him.
So he changed his scenery, moved to the Peak District in 2008, marvelled at the beauty of it and started taking pictures. People told him how special they were so he began to sell them to local pubs.
“I live for photographs. It’s an addiction - one I love every second of”
He put together his first book of wildlife photography and had just three copies printed. (Nothing he has ever published since has been in single figures!)
One copy was left in his local pub and frequently attracted lot of interest from punters who were always very keen for the helpful landlord to point out who the talented photographer was. Not wanting his days of a quiet pint to be over, our man came up with the name Villager Jim to preserve his anonymity.
He then set up the Villager Jim Facebook page. 14,000 followers in just six months exploded into 180,000 – and numbers continue to grow…
His reputation grew, his followers flocked and his journey gathered speed.
Villager Jim keeps good company. The Duke of Devonshire has given him access to private areas of his estate. He’s been on telly. He’s won prizes (lots of them) and yet he’s camera shy by nature, preferring to stay out of the limelight and let his photos tell the story. Anonymity can be a little hard to preserve when you’re this well known, especially after winning a BBC Springwatch competition in 2012 with a wonderful starlings picture chosen from 50,000 entries. He also won the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2013/2014, followed by Press Photo of the Year 2015 and 2016, then appeared on the BBC Countryfile show. With a massively expanding range of merchandise and exciting opportunities ahead, Villager Jim is still bemused by the extent of his fame and popularity.
The secret to his success? Villager Jim takes a stunning shot and gives it context and narrative, names his subjects, captures their personality, expressions and quirks. It’s a compelling antidote to a fast-paced world that can sometimes feel a little negative, connecting with our need as humans to counter those darker moments. Who can help smiling at Bobbin? Why does Dilly tug at our hearts? And oh, those majestic stags…
The man behind the lens
“Photography is a way of life to me. I’m out in all weathers…wind, rain, fog, snow from dawn to dusk, chasing that one breath-taking shot that never fails to astound, delight and mesmerise me. I’m fishing for a catch rather than going on a fixed mission.
My favourite place in the world is the beautiful Peak District, where I live, work and play. Nowhere else captures the changing of the seasons, the gentle curtain falling between day and night, the beautiful partnership of nature and wildlife, water and woods, hill and valley, movement and stillness.
It’s such a joy for me to share my adventures through Facebook to reach and touch the widest possible audience. I’m sustained, rewarded and fuelled by the love and enthusiasm of my Facebook fans.”
And those numbers swell every day…
What does the future hold?
“That’s easy. To continue to bring joy, delight, amazement and enrichment to the people who follow me, who share my passion and see the natural world, in all its beauty, through the same eyes as me.
“I just want to grow the following and to simply hear people say how much they enjoy my images. That, for me, is worth more than money.”
My lens lifts people’s hearts and souls, I’m so lucky to be in the right place, at the right time, spreading the feel-good factor and bringing the countryside to everyone who shares my delight in it, whether they live down the road, in a tower block or on the other side of the globe.”
He may be a super snapper, but he’s a camera shy sort of guy so don’t expect him to reveal his true identity any time soon. Although you never know…
PS Don’t tell anyone but we’ve heard that when he’s not touring the country lanes and villages of his beloved Peak District, Villager Jim hides out in a little studio in his garden complete with its own wood burning stove.
That famous picture of Dilly the lovable Labrador snoozing on a red leather sofa has been viewed more than 30 million times. Did you know it first went viral after a story circulated that she belonged to an American marine who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan?
"Totally made up," laughs Villager Jim. "But it spread so far, so fast that rather than fighting the fiction, I decided to go with the positive truth that it meant more people were looking at my pictures.”
Dilly’s younger brother Barnaby has also joined the celebrity world, modelling for Barbour and promoting his own food range. Is there no end to this talented family?
And the adventures continue daily on www.facebook.com/villagerjim , join jim and see what the coming days hold…….