My Photographic Journey

John Massey

My Photographic Journey

What are your first photography memories? 

As a child I was always fascinated by my father’s Leica, which was housed in a lovely brown leather case. We used to view the family slides on a projector - the pictures were generally taken on holiday. There was also a shoebox full of prints, lots of them 6” x 4” or even smaller, some tiny. After my parents died I kept the slides and prints and they hold great memories.

What type of photographs did you start taking initially and how has it changed over the years?

During childhood I used a box brownie on occasions, but photography was not a great interest at that time. Later I took the usual family photographs and holiday snaps, always on auto, as I had no understanding of how a camera works. It wasn’t until I retired and started travelling that I took more interest in photography. When I bought a decent digital camera I wanted to understand how it worked and how I could get the best out of it. I did a couple of local one day courses.

I then decided that the best way to learn was to join a camera club. My main aim was to master the technicalities. Through the club I realised that photography was much more than understanding how a camera works - it is an art form and is also about developing your own style. At that time I felt I had very limited artistic abilities, but decided to take on the challenge. Gradually I began to understand the various elements that make for an interesting composition and how you can break the “rules” to produce something different.

After a couple of years my competition entries became more successful and my confidence grew, particularly after getting an award from the SCPF & PAGB for a mono print in 2014. In 2017 I was fortunate to have an entry in LPOTY that was awarded “Highly Commended”. Around that time I also had an image as a half page spread in the Daily Telegraph.

Over the years I have found that certain genres interest me more than others and what I photograph now has changed hugely since I joined the club. I feel I have developed my own style and contrary to what I thought pre club, I do have a degree of artistic ability.

Most of the images I have chosen to accompany this article are from club competitions over the years. I enjoy looking at them and feel they still represent my personal style.

Name three pieces of photographic equipment that you would not want to be without and why

1) Compact Fuji XT30, 2) 18mm pancake lens 3) Wrist strap

LIke most photographers I have lots of equipment, but most of the time I carry the above and probably take pictures most days of the week. The compact nature of the camera and lens make them easy to carry and the wrist strap enables me to have the camera ready without attracting any attention. The lens is quite wide, but works really well close up, with a narrow depth of field. Because I can’t zoom I use my feet and often you find something more interesting by moving around and changing position.

Where do you get your inspiration from for new ideas and new photographic work? 

I read books, go to the occasional exhibition and discuss photography with other photographers. But, I get most inspiration from being in the countryside and observing the natural world. The same scene can change dramatically through the seasons and with different weather conditions. Cycling enables me to travel at a speed where you can slow down and stop if you see anything interesting. I like to watch the light changing across the countryside and the way it can create contrast and drama. I am drawn to moody skies, bright colours, graphic/mono compositions, detail and texture.

I currently have a few projects on the go, but at times they need a bit of stimulus.

When did you join Wokingham Photography Club and what do you enjoy about it?

I joined in 2012. The first meeting I attended was a competition, where the judge was using a language that was completely foreign to me!

I look forward to the speakers and always learn something from them. I find the most enjoyable evenings are those where the club members get involved, such as the Folio evening. I find competitions more interesting when the judge invites comments from the audience.

I was on the committee for about 8 years, which I found very fulfilling and helped me to feel very much part of the club.