British photographer Gary Browne has recently won an international award for his photograph of Spanish wild goats taken in Comares, where he has lived for two years with his wife, Hayley.
Gary's shot, entitled Part of the Landscape, which shows the silhouette of a family of ibexes on the Fuente Gordo rocks near the village, was given honorable mention and a gold medal for professional photographers in the silhouette category of this year's Black & White Spider photography awards.
Now in its fifteenth year and as its name suggests, the international competition honours both amateurs and professionals in the field of black and white photography.
Gary, 58, says that he is "relatively new" to black and white photography and has spent much of this year getting up early to take shots of the village at dawn and "experimenting with shade and shadow". He adds that it was the "drama of the clouds" that first inspired him.
"The ibexes are regular visitors to the village and I certainly noticed more during the first lockdown," Gary explains. He goes on to say that they are not shy and that he has been able to get quite close to them with his camera.
He describes the morning that he spent "about half an hour" photographing a male ibex which was on its own. "He was aware that I was there but he didn't seem worried," says Gary.
When he captured the family that went on to be the winning photo, Gary says he was up early with his dogs and walking around the Fuente Gordo area of the village. The ibex to the right of the photo was actually watching Gary's dogs at the time.
The recognition, Gary says, has been "a nice surprise in a tough year". Awards, he goes on to say, "make a difference and give you inspiration to keep going".
While Gary says that he's missed the colour and vibrancy of Spain's festivals, flamenco and other traditions this year, Comares has been "a great place to be locked down in".
Although the studio he set up soon after moving to the village, has only been open intermittently throughout the year, he admits that the slower pace of life has not been too bad. At least, he says, he's had the dogs as an excuse to get out of the house.
Prior to moving to Spain, Gary, who is originally from north Wales, worked as a photographer for the Kent Messenger newspaper for 15 years.
As a press photographer, he describes himself as a "Jack of all trades" and has a varied portfolio of photos. Although since coming to Spain, Gary's work has focused on landscape and fine art as well as flamenco and festivals, with a forced change of focus this year.
Move to Spain
Unlike most Brits who retire to Spain, Gary says he'd never been to the country before deciding to move here.
"The kids had left home and it was time for a change and the opportunity to do something different," he explains.
The photographer says he'd heard of Andalusian white villages and the couple visited just two - Cómpeta and Casares - before falling in love with Comares. For them it has everything, he points out, stressing the panoramic views of the mountains and coast.
Gary's studio - www.thestudiounderthewall.com - can be visited as part of the Comares heritage trail. He also has an online shop.
He says that he's looking forward to being able to capture more colour and festivals, as well as discovering more of the art scene in the Axarquía and Malaga.
Gary hopes to become more established in the local arts scene when the situation allows.