Photographing the four seasons of Eaton, Chester
PUBLISHED: 01:08 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:57 20 February 2013
The splendour of the Eaton estate in Chester is captured by Nick Hastings-Winch and Phil Mann who won the chance to photograph the four estates of the Duke and Duchess of Westminster
Not many first jobs give you the chance to impress a duchess, lure buzzards towards you with a dead rabbit or stalk the grounds of an enormous estate looking for fallow deer. But 21-year-old Nick Hastings-Winch managed to do all three as part of a commission from the Duke and Duchess of Westminster.
Amateur photographers Nick, from Broxton, and Helsby-based Phil Mann, 44, won the opportunity to spend a year capturing the beauty of four of the Grosvenor estates in Lancashire, Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands, Spain and the remarkable Eaton estate in Chester. They beat off tough competition from photographers around the North West.
The pair photographed the diverse landscape and wildlife and worked together on all the estates apart from Eaton. For Nick, who captured a lot of the flora and fauna, it meant hiding in bushes, crawling along the ground and finding creative ways to attract the attention of some of the local animals.
'There were many buzzards on the estate which I managed to photograph by waiting in a hide and putting a dead rabbit out to attract them near,' he recalled. 'Other birds of note were the peregrine falcon which roosts on top of the clock tower. I got many chances to take pictures of the fallow deer too because it is a big deer park.
'On my last day I finally got a kingfisher on the lake at the back. It was one of the birds I really wanted to find. I'd get up really early before sunrise so I had the best opportunities to get what I wanted. I was stopped quite a few times by security. They'd find me in bushes and behind the plants so it's no surprise they were wondering who I was.'
Both photographers spent five-day stints at each estate in every season. They braved the elements to get the colourful shots that were recently featured as part of the Rural Estates exhibition held at Eaton.
'My favourite is the multi-coloured leaves on the trees in autumn,' said Nick. 'I took the picture from the clock tower and it gave me some unusual perspectives. But spring was my favourite time at Eaton. Everything was sprouting up through the ground with flowers everywhere and all down the driveway. Everything was waking up for the new season. It was magnificent.'
The pair met Natalia, the Duchess of Westminster and have since had the seal of approval on their images. Nick decided to open up his own photography business after completing the commission. For Phil, for whom photography has been a lifelong passion, the work was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Phil said: 'I have been passionate about photography, particularly landscape and nature, for many years so to be given the opportunity to spend such a large amount of time doing just that was a wonderful experience.
'The four estates are very different and each brought its own challenges as did the reality of making pictures for someone other than oneself. However, I was given an open brief which meant that challenge was, ultimately, very rewarding.'