Ampleforth photographer wins award for pictures of rural life

Lucy Sagger's award-winning 'Bringing in the Geese' photograph.
Lucy Sagger's award-winning 'Bringing in the Geese' photograph.
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Her atmospheric black and white images have proved popular at galleries and fairs across Yorkshire. Now Lucy Saggers is celebrating after being crowned Craft Photographer of the Year.

Lucy’s winning picture, “Farrier Tom”, captures Tom Dyer in action hot-shoeing a horse at his parents’ forge.

Lucy Saggers' photograph 'Farrier Tom'

Lucy Saggers' photograph 'Farrier Tom'

He is the son of master farrier Huw Dyer and his wife Jackie, who took over Londonderry Farriers and Blacksmiths, near Northallerton, in 1983. The business serves the hunting, racing and general equestrian communities of North Yorkshire and is committed to training apprentices in the traditional art of farriery.

The judges of the Heritage Crafts Association awards were impressed with both the subject and the composition. The Association presented Lucy with the Craftspeople at Work prize followed by the overall Furniture Village Craft Photographer of the Year title.

“The aim was to capture Tom in action as naturally as I could,” said Lucy. “I don’t get people to pose for the pictures. I try to stay in the background and be as unobtrusive as possible.”

Before taking up full-time photography, Lucy was a wildlife conservationist and worked all over the world, including in Uganda, where she was based at a research station studying the impact of logging on chimpanzees, and in Nigeria, where she worked on a monkey rehabilitation project.

A keen amateur photographer, who had her own darkroom and processed film herself, she captured her time abroad on camera. But she returned home to Britain with all her equipment wrecked by the high levels of humidity in the rainforest.

“I had to throw all my cameras away because mould had infiltrated them. That was it, there was nothing I could do to stop the spores from growing.”

After marrying Yorkshire builder Will Saggers, she settled in Ampleforth and was busy with young children and her B&B business but was desperate to get back behind the lens.

“I couldn’t fight the compulsion any longer. I was seeing pictures everywhere that I really needed to take and so I bought a digital camera and did a course with the Photography Institute.”

Lucy got her diploma two years ago and has since carved out a niche documenting rural life and landscape. She is best known for her black and white prints, which document Ampleforth and the surrounding countryside.

Lucy prefers black and white pictures as she feels they reveal the essence of the subject without the distraction of colour, and describes her photography expeditions as “seeking light and shadow, people and goings-on”. Her aim is to record small, often unseen moments, to portray fragments of rural history.

“I want to capture the beauty of ordinary rural life, the allure of the landscape, and the delicate, fine detail of the natural world, telling a contemporary story of the fabric of the countryside through its people and landscapes. I also feel that lots of things go on that won’t always be here and so it’s important to document them for the archives.

“I am influenced by the work of James Ravilious, son of artist Eric Ravilious. He photographed life in Devon in a similar way,” said Lucy, who was also a finalist in this year’s Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year awards for her picture “Bringing in the Geese”.

The photograph shows Mr Todd, who runs a poultry farm in Ampleforth.

Both of her award-winning photographs will be on display at her home, along with other prints, as part of this year’s North Yorkshire Open Studios event.

Lucy and local artists Stephen Bird and Jonathan Pomroy are all opening their home studios in Ampleforth to the public.

More than 100 artists and makers from all over North Yorkshire, from Skipton to Scarborough, are taking part in the event. It runs across two weekends, June 6-7 and June 13-14. Details of all the artists taking part can be found online at and for more details about Lucy’s photographic work, visit her website,