Beyond the Clouds

Tim Hall’s second mountain book documents his own Grand Tour through Europe’s most famous mountains. In the spirit of artists and writers who have gone before he has forged his own route through the peaks and valleys of the Alps, from Chamonix in France, through the famous resorts of Switzerland and Austria to Cortina in Italy. Beyond the Clouds charts his journey spanning eight years and six modes of transportation: on foot, skis and toboggans and by car, helicopter and train.

Tim’s deep love for the mountains began on family ski holidays as a child. “It’s only up here that I become acutely aware of all my senses, all at once”, he says. “The palpable silence, sense of freedom and sheer awe at the drama of the landscape never cease to excite the photographer in me.”

His work sensitively respects the majesty of the mountains that can quickly morph into a mirage on the whim of the weather. He most likes to shoot, not when the sun is high in the sky but when the mist curls over the ridge, allowing him to capture a more ethereal image. “I believe that less visual information creates more impact. I want the viewer to go into their own reverie beyond what is seen,” he says.

Tim’s choice of subject matter and keen eye for composition reflect the patterns and shapes that exist in nature. His medium format camera adds a sense of symmetry and space to his frame. The result is a cohesive oeuvre that straddles abstraction and reality, photography and painting. As Hubert Schwärzler, the former head of tourism for Lech, Austria, commented, “Tim simply paints with his camera.”

Yet alongside the romance, Tim’s works convey his interest in man’s mark on the mountainside. Serene distant peaks contrast with tracks in the snow, the chaos of criss-crossing lifts and streaks of skiers. He purposefully chooses his vantage point, be it an aerial view from a helicopter or a distant take of climbers trudging up an incline, to explore the fragile relationship between the natural world and those that venture within it.

Sophie Benge