John Cleare is not only a professional photographer, a mountaineer and a wilderness traveller but also a writer, an author, a film-maker and a lecturer. He has been described as " the outstanding British mountain photographer of the post-war era… " ( Walt Unsworth / Penguin Encyclopaedia of Mountaineering )
After graduating in photography at Guildford and working for a while on the early sixties fashion icon Queen Magazine, he formed a photographic, design and film-making partnership with two friends before finally going entirely freelance in 1969. For many years much of his work entailed corporate identity, media and editorial commissions as well as film and television assignments for the BBC and various commercial broadcast and film companies. Notable projects included Matterhorn Centenary, The Old Man of Hoy, Spiders Web, Last Blue Mountain, Surrender to Everest and The Eiger Sanction with Clint Eastwood.
His first book, in 1962, covered British gardens for a major petrol company but he has been climbing mountains since his early teens and Rock Climbers in Action in Snowdonia, now a cult book among climbers, was published in 1965. A steady stream of profusely illustrated books has followed, either written by John or illustrated in partnership with well-known authors. Recent titles include On Foot in the Yorkshire Dales, Mountains of the World, Britain Then and Now ( with Philip Ziegler and the Francis Frith Collection ), Distant Mountains and the official National Park Guide to Pembrokeshire.
Meanwhile commissions of all sorts and several lecture tours have taken John all over Europe, to the Arctic, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, to Africa, to Borneo, to China and frequently to the ultimate mountains - the Himalaya of Nepal, India and Pakistan.
He led the 1978 British Himalchuli attempt, the highly successful American ski ascent of Muztagh Ata in 1982 and the British Kedar Ski Expedition of 1994. Ski Mountaineering, a little known sport here in Britain, is his current favourite mountain activity.
It was after his return from the epic International Everest Expedition of 1971 that the BBC persuaded John to start a picture library with his already large collection of mountain images. Though small, specialist and very personal, Mountain Camera is now long established and sells worldwide. Among the several talented mountain, polar and wilderness photographers whose work complements John's own images, Colin Monteath from New Zealand, Pat Morrow from Canada, Tadashi Kajiyama from Japan and Britain's Leo Dickinson are well known.
Library photographs are now scanned in-house, manipulated when necessary and are usually supplied by e-mail or on CD-ROM. John still accepts photographic and writing commissions that interest him, either mainstream or requiring his specialist experience and skills.