Cloher Strand, Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry.Patrick Donald

The Wild Atlantic Way is the world’s longest defined coastal route and is attracting increasing numbers of visitors year upon year. Patrick Donald is currently completing a tour of the Wild Atlantic Way and has been making iconic images of this spectacular route.

What started as an exhibition of work for Photo Ireland Festival 2015 has since developed into a book prospect consisting of these iconic images.

He is drawn to the Irish landscape and the people of Ireland and the strength of that attraction is evident in much of his work.

I caught up with Donald mid-tour and had a chat with him.

Slea Head, the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry.

Slea Head, the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry.

“Ireland is surrounded by the Atlantic in a very unique way that exposes the natural beauty of the landscape. The Wild Atlantic way is a wonderfully rugged coastline that is full of drama, texture and richness and is uniquely set against the vast expanse of the Atlantic.”

The Wild Atlantic Way, runs 1,500 miles along the western coast of Ireland. Donald acknowledges just how long the route is and says that it will take a minimum of two years to do it justice and to discover its hidden beauty.

‘There is so much to see along the route: enormous sea cliffs, incredible beaches and unique history and culture. Whilst many of the highlights are well-known tourist spots there is also a ‘hidden’ Wild Atlantic Way – spots that are waiting to be discovered or views that have yet to be explored with a camera. The unearthed mysteries of the landscape are what excites me and leads me to create the best of my work.”

Slieve League, County Donegal.

Slieve League, County Donegal.

Donald’s fans love his Irish landscapes as, somehow, he manages to capture a sense of ‘emotion’ in every scene that strikes a chord with people the world over. Part of this drama is portrayed by Donald’s emphasis on achieving the balance of light and composition in each piece of work.

“Firstly you need to find the scene that you think will produce a powerful image. After that is about the balance of light and composition to render the emotion in the scene. The aesthetic balance of the elements in the scene is what makes it work.”

The emotion and sense of drama in his images are what seem to strike a chord with his audience, who get to see Ireland through Donald's eyes. He manages to foster a nostalgic longing for Ireland in his fans.

Mullaghmore, County Sligo.

Mullaghmore, County Sligo.

For the Wild Atlantic Way exhibition this year Donald chose 18 large format pictures in black and white that highlighted some of the best shots taken on the first leg of the tour. Black and white is a medium Donald is very comfortable with as he has been taking photographs for over 20 years and started out using black and white film.

He opened his gallery in the center of Dublin, on Dawson Street, in 2010. A largely self-taught photographer using traditional film and darkroom techniques, he now incorporates digital photography using the best of modern technology to create his art.

Born and bred in Dublin, Donald has a particular affinity for his home town. In addition to his Irish landscapes, he also showcases a wide range of Dublin street photography capturing the essence of Georgian architecture, street sculptures, and scenes inhabited by true Dublin street characters. He also boasts a stunning fine art and world collection.

His passion throughout all his work has been “to strike a chord around our human existence in a positive and real way.” His works have been likened to paintings where the minute elements of the composition combined with the hues of light and the captured facial expressions are like brushstrokes on the canvas of Irish life. You only need to take a look at a handful of his pictures to understand that each of his images captures a ‘moment in time’ that stays with you long after you have seen the photograph.

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