Powering your future: Documenting the green revolution

Offshore photographer Julian Claxton climbing a ladder on a wind turbine at sea

Offshore photographer Julian Claxton loves the rush of climbing a wind turbine - Credit: CHPV

This week, we will be running a series of "Powering Your Future" stories focused on the fantastic career opportunities in East Anglia's exciting offshore wind industry. Julian Claxton has wanted to be a photographer ever since he was a child. Now he works for offshore media company CHPV, photographing wind farms off the east coast and more. 

For Julian Claxton, there isn’t a typical day at work – he could be scaling a wind turbine to install a time-lapse camera or staying overnight on a boat ready to capture the moment the foundations are put in for a new wind farm.

“As a photographer and filmmaker, I strive for creativity – no two days are the same,” he explained. “In the industry I am privileged to work in, we never know what we’re going to get. That’s part of the excitement of doing what we do.”

It’s a dream come true for Julian, who is now part of CHPV – an experienced offshore media company based in East Anglia and run by Alan O’Neill.

Julian was working as a documentary and storytelling photographer, primarily with a medical background, when he met Alan. When Julian discovered there was an opportunity to work with CHPV and capture the ever-changing renewables industry, he jumped at the chance. 

“I have been involved with CHPV for three years now, and it’s a real privilege to document the ever-changing offshore landscape off our coast.” 

The CHPV team use the latest high-quality equipment, including cameras and drones, to record their subjects, filming in 4K, and even 6K when needed. 

“Anyone can take a great photograph using their phone, so we need to use the latest equipment to find that niche.”

ScottishPower Renewables' East Anglia ONE wind farm in the North Sea - with turbines turning as SNS

Julian sees it as a privilege to document the ever-changing offshore landscape off our coast - Credit: Archant

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CHPV also use solar powered time-lapse cameras, on land or offshore, to create imagery over six, 12 or even 24 months. “The equipment adds to the fun of it – dealing with the latest ‘toys’ to create the best imagery.”

A lot goes on behind the scenes, with 85% of his time spent preparing for jobs. There’s continual training, regular medicals (they often carry up to 16 bags of equipment between them), and health and safety documents to prepare.

For Julian, it’s all worth it for the rush of climbing a wind turbine. He admits he has no fear of heights, enjoying sky diving when he was younger. 

“I’ve always been prepared to push the boundaries.”

If his story inspires you, the best piece of advice he can offer is “don’t get too tied up in having the right camera equipment – learn your subject, learn your craft. Experiment and have fun with it”.

Julian has wanted to be a photographer since he was 11, when a photographer came into his school to help create a school newspaper and he was chosen to be the photographer.

Turbines turning on East Anglia ONE wind farmScottish power Picture: JULIAN CLAXON/CHPV

A lot of planning goes on behind the scenes before Julian can take his amazing pictures, with 85% of his time spent preparing for jobs - Credit: Archant

He's had the photography bug ever since. He went on to do an HND in photography, before completing an on-the-job degree in medical photography, working for Ipswich Hospital then later going self-employed and working with CHPV.

He now also inspires others with Give a Child a Camera. Since 2015, he has been travelling to African countries, where he gives children second-hand cameras and teaches them about creative imagery.

“Some of the children have really blossomed and I’m trying to get them work experience in Uganda. Their work is incredible. It feels nice to give back.”

He says: “I also feel privileged to document the green revolution of what’s happening in the UK and Europe in the renewables industry, which is helping in the fight against climate change.” 

Front cover of the Powering Your Future supplement

Powering Your Future: How offshore wind is creating new careers in East Anglia - Credit: Archant

Find out more about getting your foot in the door and helping generate the clean green energy we all need for a greener, zero-carbon future that will benefit future generations for years to come in the Powering Your Future supplement, produced in partnership with ScottishPower Renewables.

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