Camera adventure

Lucinda Grange – the new life of an adventure photographer in York

North Yorkshire photographer Lucinda Grange has scaled some of the world’s iconic structures in the name of art. Here she talks about her international career as an “adventure photographer” and why she traded her life in New York for York

HOW does a girl from Harrogate end up sitting on one of the “eagles” of New York’s iconic Chrysler building – all in the name of art?

Lucinda Grange has certainly come a long way since growing up in the North of England.

The self-proclaimed “adventure photographer” is known for scaling some of the world’s most famous structures and taking the most extraordinary landscape and portrait photographs.

Her portfolio includes photos of her on the Great Pyramid in Egypt, on the Forth Rail Bridge in Edinburgh and at Notre Dame in Paris.

Lucinda, 33, who moved to York with her husband Chris during the Covid pandemic, having previously lived in New York and Switzerland, has earned a reputation as a daring commercial photographer who strives to create a different perspective.

She said, “I want art to be accessible to people – and it’s important that they feel something when they see art.”

She was a student at Cleveland College of Art and Design, where she majored in photography.

Early work on the transporter bridge at Middlesbrough. Photo by Lucinda Grange

It could have been so different. Lucinda was a math and science student at school on her way to becoming an engineer when she inherited a DSLR camera from her grandfather. She joined a photo club – and caught the virus.

She said the best advice came to her early in her career. “My college professor told me to start doing now what you want to be paid for when you’re a professional photographer so people know what you’re capable of.”

Lucinda took those words to heart. Some of her first ‘adventure’ images came from a daring night in the North East where she scaled both Newport Bridge and the Carrier Bridge in Middlesbrough on the same evening.

Her portfolio is not only the result of her photographic skills but of her physical prowess (she is a proficient climber), but also depends on an ability to access the usually inaccessible, undetected.

Legally, she says, trespassing is a civil matter in the UK. In America, it’s a criminal offence. However, she has not yet been “caught” in the act, let alone prosecuted for one of her “adventures”.

Needless to say, she went to great lengths to get into some of these famous places, including making an appointment with a dentist in the Chrysler Building on the day she wanted to have her photoshoot done.

York Press: Forth Rail Bridge, Edinburgh.  By Lucinda GrangeForth Rail Bridge, Edinburgh. By Lucinda Grange

“People usually don’t look up. People don’t pay attention,” she said with a sweet smile.

“We own these structures. We pay for them. We walk over bridges. We walk over manhole covers, but do we think – what’s underneath? There’s a different world underneath. I want people to see these places.”

But acknowledging the risks, she says the best way to see these places is through her images. “I do not encourage people to do like me, but rather to discover these places through my work, there are dangers.”

Such methods are a means to an end – not something she wants people to copy. No, its mission is to surprise people by taking something well known and showing it in a different light.

“I want to share my work and tell stories – I don’t want to encourage people to do it themselves. They can experience it vicariously through it.

“They can see my photographs and take them home – as postcards or posters from a gallery.

“Of course, if it’s not for you, you can just leave.”

In her quest to show people different worlds, Lucinda also enjoys photographing inside tunnels. His current project is to “dissect” a specific fixed point, taking pictures from above and below. She tells me she’s been in tunnels so narrow she had to “wriggle like a snake” to get through.

Career success has followed her since leaving college. She started showing her work in galleries right from the start and also gained high profile clients over the years.

She said: “My personal work draws people in and brings in commissions. I get a lot of sports-based commissions because they know I’m not going to make it as a sports photographer.

“They see how I work and what I’m capable of and want me to adapt that to a campaign project.”

Recently, she worked with England Netball on their new campaign.

She said: “A lot of what I do is to bring people into an environment to contrast the person with their surroundings.”

For this campaign, Lucinda did several shoots, including one inside Birmingham Symphony Hall and another in a tunnel under Clapham in London.

York Press: England women's netball campaign photo.  Photo by Lucinda GrangeCampaign photo for women’s netball in England. Photo by Lucinda Grange

She says bringing subjects into these “hidden worlds” creates an excitement that carries over into the final image.

“Space can really inspire them.” As for the viewer, she says she gives them a new look at something familiar; a different perspective on everyday life.

A bonus is that she doesn’t have to travel to exotic locations for her shoots. “You don’t need a crazy budget to get a new perspective – you just have to look at our surroundings in a new way – it makes it exciting and different.”

So how does she find life in York? Has she climbed our tallest building – the cathedral.

She nods – and tells how she took an official guided tour of the scaffolding. “We walked around the stone courtyard first, then took the builder’s lift and down the scaffolding where they showed us the old and new masonry together.

“It’s fascinating to see the top of the cathedral and the work in progress up close. The detail that goes into the stonework is incredible and the views over the city are spectacular.”

More on: lucindagrange.com