All Creatures Great and Small locations: Photographer Tom Holmes turns scenic spots into stunning 2024 Yorkshire Dales calendars
Breath-taking beauty waits where we least expect it, round every corner, within seconds of our own front door. If, that is, we are prepared to keep our eyes open for it. This is what Tom Holmes has found in his 13 years as a professional photographer.
It helps that Tom’s patch is the Yorkshire Dales. One evening, he had almost reached his home in Carleton, near Skipton, when he noticed a view that he had never seen before, even though he had passed by many, many times.
“There is a little copse of trees on the corner of the road,” he said. “It’s the most insignificant little area of trees, but one day, I was coming back from taking some wintery scenes in the Dales, driving home at sunset time, and the trees were covered in hoar frost and the sunset was right behind.”
He pulled over and took a few photos.
“It’s probably one of my best-selling shots ever and it’s a scene I’ve never seen again. It was one of those complete chance encounters.”
Tom, 40, was brought up on the outskirts of Derby and moved up to the Skipton area with his parents in 2006.
After graduating with a degree in Video and New Media Production, he worked in media production, making interactive DVDs and websites.
“I was stuck in an office all day, not having the greatest time, and that’s why landscape photography became such a draw,” he said. “My dad was a professional photographer when I was born, so I grew up with a camera in my hand.”
Falling in love with the landscape of the Dales prompted a career change, and so 13 years ago he started his own photography business. “It was a big jump,” he said. “It was a perfect time to see if I could make it work, and thankfully it did.”
Tom has been photographing and producing his Yorkshire Dales calendars for 10 years. He had a stall at Skipton Market for eight years, but stopped that last year to start the wholesale side of his business and take on more commercial work (he covers a range from live music events and food and drink festivals to holiday cottages, pubs and restaurants).
He hit upon the idea for another calendar when he chanced upon some unusual goings-on in Grassington.
“There was lots of activity in the square, people decorating the shop fronts,” he said.
He asked around and learned that it was the production of a new adaptation of All Creatures and Small, which launched on Channel 5 in 2020.
“I took a few pictures and shared them on Facebook and everyone seemed really interested,” he said. “When it came out on TV, I saw they had been filming all around the local area.”
He decided to include some of the locations in his Yorkshire Dales calendar. The following year, he kept an eye out for filming of the second series and took more pictures, sharing them again on social media. “People seemed to enjoy it so I thought I’ll try an All Locations Great and Small calendar – not wanting to use the name of the programme, obviously, because of copyright issues.”
Tom points out that his photographs are all taken in public places, and he portrays the locations and set scenes on the calendars, rather than cast members.
“I tend to try and keep out of the way as much as possible because they are obviously very busy when,” he said. “They don’t seem to mind at all. They have got nice location crew that make sure people are out of the shot. Nicholas Ralph is very keen to talk to people and have a chat, and they all seem very friendly and very personable people.
“There are so many spots that they have found that I have never thought about exploring, the little tracks they have found and gone down and little farmyards. The spot I still love is Yockenthwaite, the Alderson farm. It’s a fantastic spot for photography with the red post box in front.”
The calendar had proved popular with both All Creatures fans and locals. He sells them, like his Yorkshire Dales calendars, online via his website and on Amazon, Etsy and eBay, plus in local shops and cafes.
Tom uses two Canon 6D cameras. “They are not the newest cameras in the world by any stretch, but they work perfectly for what I need, do the job and they are good, strong, lasting cameras,” he said. “I occasionally use a polarising filter which helps, like polarising sunglasses, reduce the glare of sunshine, especially on water and reflections, and very occasionally use a graduated neutral density filter, which is like a glass filter that goes in front of the lens and has a slightly darker top than a bottom, and you can use that to darken the sky and keep the foreground still bright, generally used for things like sunsets. But I tend to keep things as light as possible. It’s just normally me, a camera bag, two cameras, and a handful of lenses - that’s about it.
“My aim is always to produce a photograph that is an accurate representation of what I saw at the time. I never add anything that wasn't in the original image and never remove anything, except on the very rare occasion there is something that completely spoils it, for example, a carrier bag stuck on a tree in the distance. I love bright, primary colours and try to shoot my photographs at the optimal time to get the most saturated greens and blues as possible.”
Tom aims to capture the essence of the landscape he loves but he says he has not yet managed to capture the perfect photograph. “That’s what keeps me going,” he said. “There’s always that thought that there is a better photo out there to capture of the Dales, because it’s never the same twice. You can stand on the same spot. The light is always different, the colours are always different, different animals in the fields, different crops growing.”
The Yorkshire Dales 2024 Calendar and the All Locations Great and Small 2024 Calendar are on sale now, from £7.99, at tomholmes.photography/Shop