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January 2016 Issue
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Seeing nature differently

Craig Potton with his wife Catherine at his Nelson gallery. Photo: Andy Dennis

Craig Potton, publisher and conservationist

Most trampers know of Craig Potton through his photography. The cover of Images of a Limestone Landscape (written by Andy Dennis), showing a Fox River reflection, has become one of the best-known nature photographs ever taken in New Zealand. Another timeless image shows a Milford Sound waterfall blowing halfway back up a cliff.

Craig’s photography makes you think about nature differently. Although much of his work features big landscapes, he’s equally adept with tiny details such as rocks or sand patterns, and has made an art form of chaotic and gloomy forest interiors.

Visually powerful as his images are, it’s the underlying conservation message that gives his work real depth. Craig believes implicitly in the importance of nature, and for more than 40 years has worked with groups like the Native Forest Action Council, and Forest & Bird. In Images, he sought to extol the values of the Paparoa Range and its lowland forests, then under threat from logging.

Disappointment at how his first photographic book, Tongariro, was produced led him to found Craig Potton Publishing in 1987, recently changed to Potton and Burton. Under the able hands of publisher Robbie Burton (Craig’s long-time friend, with whom he completed a Southern Alps traverse in the early 1980s) the company is now New Zealand’s largest independent publisher.