What are your first photography memories?
I was gifted a Kodak Instamatic 126 cartridge-film camera for one of my early-teens birthdays. I remember at first taking so many frames then realising that my pocket money wouldn’t stretch far enough to cover the cost of processing the film, so I got a Saturday job.
How did your interest in photography develop?
As an Art and Design student, we had a photography module where we learnt how to use a 35mm SLR and how to process the films in the dark room. I found the whole process magical. Until the print appeared in the developing fluid, you never quite knew what you were going to get. I got hooked on the buzz of the anticipation.
How has your style and approach to photography evolved over the years?
Picking up the camera again when I had my children and returning to regular photo taking, I would say I first used it as more of a recording tool. However, it wasn’t until I bought my first digital camera and joined WEBCC that I realised there was so much more I could do. Then I studied part time for the City and Guilds Level 2.
When I first joined the club and started entering competitions, I worked more towards the single image for club competitions. After studying for the C&Gs, I learnt to build series of images and focused more on project work. I have produced photo books and thoroughly enjoyed the process, which is more about telling a story over multiple images than saying it all with just one. I find the story telling requires a mix of context shots, details and mood setting images, along with a consideration of rhythm, which suits me better. I take many photos, editing the images down to the poignant story telling pieces is quite an art, one which I’m still trying to master.
Today, I would say I have an impressionist style to my work. I glad that I learnt the camera fundamentals and can use it in manual mode. It gives me flexibility. I can create photorealistic images at a high quality level. However, that does not mean I use manual very often but it does give me the knowledge of how to use exposure combinations to achieve the effects I want to create depending on the feel I want to convey in my images. My work is very eclectic and frequently experimental. I often play with ICM and have a large collection of blurred forms. I enjoy playing with shapes, textures and, most of all, colour.
When did you join WEBCC?
I joined in 2008, when I was one of very few women in the club! I joined to learn how to use my brand new digital camera. As it turned out, I learned much more than that and I have made many friends there. I was on the club committee for many years as Competition Secretary.
What THREE pieces of photographic equipment would you not want to be without?
My curiosity. Each time I am making captures mindfully, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking what is it about this scene, or the person/people in front of me, that I would like to convey and how best to do that? Without that I am solely record taking rather than being creative. I do that too.
My smartphone. I use it as a sketch book for my project work. It’s also so easy to keep albums of sketches together for the various ongoing projects. But I still haven’t found a solution to marry together my handwritten and my digital notes effectively. Working on it.
My telephoto zoom lens. I have a 24-240mm, it’s a big beast of a lens but I love the range. I don’t want to be curtailed by the fixed focal length of a prime. I want to be able to capture everything that excites me. For sure, I get the compromise in quality but I’d rather the flexibility; best of both worlds, maybe take a few frames long (240mm) for pattern and detail shots then wide angle (24mm) for a context shot without having to change lens or take a second body.
So where do you get your photographic inspiration from these days?
My inspiration comes mostly from the natural world; from seascapes and landscapes to textures and colour combos. My fascination of all things naturally-occurring rarely wanes.
I have been very fortunate to have travelled extensively with other ‘togs’ for the sole purpose of exploring to take photos. Arriving in a place, either new to me or a while since I last visited, always fills me with inspiration. However, I am a huge advocate of looking and revisiting places around the local area. Each pass by, there’s always something to find anew that can trigger the want to capture; whether it’s in different light or times of day, I just keep looking, try to be in a frame of mind to play and be ready to practice the craft.
Time-lapse also excites me. I find time-lapse highlights unseen patterns of movement that can then inform what I look for in captures made with long exposures. I’m getting more into video these days too. I enjoy experimenting and seeing how it turns out.
I also really enjoy seeing other photographer’s work, which in turn inspires me to try new subjects and methods. I love to visit exhibitions and read photography books - books of project work not the ‘how-to’ kind. Another way into what others are doing is following favourite photographers on social media, mostly Instagram but also Flickr and see their exploits. I have also attended photographic seminars where photographers give talks presenting their bodies of work, causes and passions. It never ceases to amaze me how any given subject matter can be interpreted in so many different ways.
I found it very difficult to select just a few of my images from my back catalogue to represent my photographic journey, but it was therapeutic to skim my photo books, my prints on the walls and, of course, my best rated images sitting on my hard drives. It was a huge challenge to choose just one image to represent the various larger projects that have contributed to my shaping as a photographer. Please bear in mind most of these are one from a series and so are without their contexts. So many personal favourites left behind! Many are on Flickr.
I am flattered to have been asked to show my work in this way and recommend the exercise to whoever is asked next.