Terry Abraham is one of the most in-demand specialist “outdoors” videographer’s in the U.K. He is living proof of the maxim “follow your dream”. Terry, a keen outdoor enthusiast all of his life, combines his hobbies of film making and wild camping by shooting short films of his treks. After meticulous editing, he posts the videos on his personal blog,
T e r r y b n d. He does such a good job that not only does he attract the attention of the outdoors public, but also some of the leading brands in the U.K. market.
Terry kindly took some time out of his schedule to answer some questions for CheapTents, which you can read in this interview:
CheapTents: It’s a question we ask everyone, but what got you into the outdoors in the first place?
Terry Abraham: I don’t really know. A number of influences I guess. My grandparents were immigrants from World War 2, and they were both very passionate about educating me to history, cultures and landscapes. My grandfather was a big lover of the British landscape and often he would pick “little ole me” up and plonk me on the back seat of his car and take me travelling. We’d often spend hours in woodland more than anything else, and consequently I’d enjoy making shelters and sleeping out.
Then come my teens I was introduced to the delights of the Lake District. Initially, it didn’t get off to a flying start, whilst orienteering I took a nasty fall and broke my arm and nearly decapitated myself! But those trips introduced a whole new dimension for me.
I was always heading off out with any make shift shelter I could find or make to spend nights out in the countryside. More so, as by my teens my family had switched from rural living to urban. The countryside never left me and still hasn’t until this very day.
CheapTents: Where is you favourite place for camping?
Terry Abraham: This is a tricky question. I don’t have a favourite place per se but more a favourite place at the time. It depends on my mood. That’s what I love about the Great British Countryside. It has such a diversity in such a small area for all tastes. I equally enjoy visiting the Peak District or places like the Lincolnshire Fens (so often overlooked by the general public) as well as parts of Wales and Northern England. Sadly I’ve only visited Scotland a few times in recent years but I hope to rectify that very soon with my work.
CheapTents: Looking at your blog, you seem to be a great advocate of wild camping, what specifically draws you to this, what is there that you can’t get from staying at a campsite?
Terry Abraham: The first thing I joke about with newbies to wild camping is that you’ll NEVER find a comfy spot to pitch on at a designated campsite. Rough, soft ground up on the hills always makes for a more enjoyable nights kip! Plus, there’s the peace and quiet. I thrive on it. Some don’t. They can find it unnerving at first (or always) and take iPods and so on. I take nothing except my phone and that’s only for keeping in touch with friends, family and social networking.
Wild camping adds a whole new dimension to one’s trips outdoors. You see sights most don’t ordinarily see. Be it wildlife, or the light and how it changes on the landscape. It’s no joke, but you really can enjoy the four seasons in one day when out in some of our National Parks.
You certainly feel more in tune with mother nature too. The sound of grouse calling at dawn when on the Pennine Moors always fills my heart with joy. Or the bleeting of sheep nearby as the sun sets on the mountains of Northern England. And when you’re camped up high on the crags of Snowdonia, you’ll enjoy views of the night sky you’ll never see nowadays in urban areas.
Wild camping offers so much on so many levels, least of all a learning of self-reliance and responsibility.
CheapTents: As a wild camper, what features in a tent do you think are important?
Terry Abraham: Ah, this old chestnut! Well, it depends on where you’re going, when and what weather conditions you are to expect. No one tent rules them all. All types have their strengths and weaknesses.
I suppose the first thing I seek in a tent is how heavy it is. There’s nothing worst than lugging about a heavy and bulky tent when outdoors. So, the lighter the better. But then the lighter tents don’t tend to be as strong as those at the other end of the scale. Light single hooped shelters are superb if you’re expecting generally benign conditions but they’re no fun in storm force winds.
I guess my main choice would be semi-geodesic tents. They pretty much cover most bases really well. Light enough and roomy enough, quick and easy to pitch and pretty strong too.
It’s horses for courses really. One man’s tent of hell is another’s palace!
CheapTents: You have recently embarked upon a professional career in cinematography, how did this actually come about?
Terry Abraham: I’ve always had an interest in film and video and it’s only in recent years I took it up as a hobby. Namely sharing on video the sights I saw on my camps. I used to be an illustrator in my 20′s so I think that certainly helped me with regards to capturing nicely composed images of the landscape. Whereas before I could create a picture, now I have to chase it!
I’m always seeking a vantage point to film with the best lighting as much as possible. Often I’ll go back to the same spot time and time again just to capture what I know any one could see. There’s no digital fakery pokery like you can get in photography. So, filming the British landscapes is still very much old school in it’s workings.
I built up quite a following on the likes of YouTube with my amateur efforts and over time it lead onto other things as I developed my skills even more. I really don’t like talking about it in truth as it can sound all a bit arrogant or boastful. Which really isn’t me at all. I do feel lucky with how things have panned out for me, make no doubt about that. I suppose what drives me on is my love of the outdoors and sharing the sights I see and hopefully inspiring those who are new to it all to get out there and see it for themselves.
CheapTents: I personally think that your work is refreshingly different to other outdoor videos I have seen. Your work seems to be more atmospheric and dramatic for example your recent Hordron Edge Stone Circle is one such piece, do you think this is the case? If so, was it a deliberate attempt by yourself and why?
Terry Abraham: I don’t really know in truth. Perhaps I do have a style people recognise and I couldn’t possibly tell you what it is! I’m oblivious. All I can honestly say is I know what I want to see and present it in such a way I think is engaging to most people of all ages. And so I set out to achieve that vision to the best of my tools and abilities. I’m truly flattered so many people like or come to me now regarding my work. It’s bewildering and feels very much like a dream.
But I’m still very much a learner and am always thinking of new ways to hook people in and get them inspired by the great outdoors. I’ve got some fantastic ideas in the pipeline for a number of videos now. But as is often the case, they take a long time to achieve. So, we’ll see how it pans out. People might not like it but if I’m happy with it, then that’s good enough for me.
If there’s one bit of advice I received once not so long ago, it was to follow my instincts and not lose sight of what I want to see. Cause as it happens, lots of others fortunately like it too.
So, I’ll be mindful of any critiques (I even seek it in private online) but I’m not easily swayed off my course and goals. I’m very driven in that respect, whether the end results are worth it or enjoyed – who knows. It’s all very subjective really.
CheapTents: You’ve talked about the need for a lightweight tent when wild camping, but how about when filming out in the outdoors, do you take lightweight cameras or equipment that is heavier but more robust?
Terry Abraham: If it does the job within a remit and it’s light – I’ll take it! Often I have to walk many miles to get from one location to another. Most of my filming is done at dawn and sunset when the light is at its best. So, the majority of my day is spent walking to where I wish to be or planned. I do take at least a couple of cameras, two tripods, lenses, and other video kit. It can be cumbersome, but I like to have all the tools I wish at my disposal as and when the time is right.
You should see my video equipment now, some of it is almost brand new and they look ancient. Dirt, cracks, scratches. But I do endeavour to take as much care with them as possible of course.
CheapTents: I am sure many of our readers would like to know how long it take to make one of your films, let’s say for example you recent promotional video for the Vango Helium 100?
Terry Abraham: I spent 3 days filming that in the Lake District with a friend. I was certain during a poor period of weather we’d get at least one decent day of sunshine. We did in the end but it as windy and low cloud and rain was a problem at times. As is often the case, a lot of waiting around was involved too.
Editing took the same amount of time too.
Terry Abraham’s promotional video, which we have also embedded
in our Vango Helium 100 tent review.
CheapTents: What did you find most challenging?
Terry Abraham: The most challenging part of it all was how to convey a sense of adventure that Vango were after. The video was very much a test run in truth. No one really knew what to expect, including myself! But I had an idea and set about getting it on camera. My main goal was to bring a sense of adventure, youthfulness and inspiration. I was certain anyone over a given age or thinking would despise the video. But I carried on nonetheless.
It was all a big experiment. And it seems to have paid off. The response to the video from the majority of people including those in the outdoors industry has been overwhelming (including more work).
But there are things I’d do differently now and wouldn’t do again. Personally, I like the opening and the ending (though I have some gripes). The middle part doesn’t really grab me. It feels forced but then I suppose that’s a reflection of the “making it up as we go along” mentality to the project.
I’ve now been commissioned by Vango to produce a series of videos since. And so far with what I’ve filmed, I think I’ve cracked it. These videos will be much better I feel. So watch this space….
CheapTents: Changing the subject completely! You are also successful blogger and I know the CheapTents.com team enjoy reading your posts, how did you get into blogging in the first place? Have you been surprised at how popular your site is?
Terry Abraham: It was a couple of other bloggers and friends who encouraged me to blog. I’m really quite a private man in reality and the thought of sharing my trips and such like online appalled me. But I can’t remember exactly when, I decided to give it a go. I really don’t know why it’s so popular. But the blog has grown and grown and now forms part of my work on many levels. I have tried my best to keep it very much a personal blog. I hope that shows.
I guess some of the interest stems from how often I’m away. I know only too well that most people for one reason or another can only get out once or twice a month at best. And those who live in the south of England even less generally due to travel and costs involved.
I suppose my blog is a release of the frustration many feel by not being out more. Others blogs were for me at least. I think another aspect is that I visit places off the beaten path as well as popular haunts.
I’ve bivouaced in the Chiltern Hills for example. Not many people expect you could still have a feeling of being outdoors in that part of the world. Much of my work over the past year has involved the Peak District. Which is probably the most easily accessible of the UK’s national parks in terms of numbers. Alas, I’ll be visiting more and more other far flung corners of the UK soon. I can’t wait to visit Dartmoor for example.
It’s not about the highest hills, the deepest lakes for me – it’s about the countryside. The landscape. The beauty of it all.
CheapTents: Finally, I’ve seen on your site that you are promoting the Crowdecote Backpackers Social Meet (August 24th to 27th), I am sure I am not the only one who is not exactly sure what it is, can you give our readers some details about it?
Terry Abraham: Last year I organised a social meet in the Peak District thinking it would be nice to make, meet, new and old friends. All ages, all backgrounds. In an informal environment where folk can easily share tips, tricks, adventures and advice. And of course go off walking solo or in groups for the weekend.
The only other added dimension was gear companies. Some companies I work with for testing gear and others I managed to persuade to attend the event on an informal level. My idea was to show people they’re just ordinary outdoors lovers who work and develop gear for their respective brands. And they could ask them questions, seek advice and so on. The companies even brought new gear to buy now and to be released some time later.
It worked really well and was a big success. I was really quite surprised but there was a lot of behind the scenes work involved, so this year I’ve shared some of that work with My Outdoors.
It’s been in the pipeline since and so it’s all back on again. We’ll see how it turns out. I’ve deliberately chosen a part of the Peak District where most people don’t visit and it’s absolutely beautiful there! Fabulous scenery and walking country. We’ve got gear on show again, gear companies in attendance, workshops and all sorts. Again, it’s all very informal so there’s no pressure on any one to do anything etc. It’s just a relaxing and informative way to meet like-minded souls who love the great outdoors!
CheapTents: The last thing to say Terry, is thanks for your time and your answers, and on behalf of the CheapTents team we hope you continue to go from strength to strength.
If you enjoyed this interview then why not read some of our other interviews with hikers, adventurers and filmmakers?
- Paul Bride – Pro Adventurer & Travel Photographer / Videographer
- Alex Atkinson – Social Hiker & Coast to Coast Walker
- Mark Moxon – LEJOGer and London Underground walker
- Leon McCarron – Adventurer and Filmmaker