My Photographic Journey
My Photographic Journey
How did your interest in photography start?
I became serious about photography around 2003, I guess when digital cameras came on the scene. Prior to that I had always had a film camera but really only for family snaps and holidays. I remember having an Olympus Trip, the one that David Bailey advertised on TV.
I had an early Fuji Finepix digital camera. I think it had as many as 2.7m pixels!
I was an early adopter of Sony equipment, I have always thought Sony was a good brand and having a friend who worked for Sony meant I could get a significant discount on the kit. That helped persuade me that Sony was the way to go. It was difficult in the early days as the range was limited and there were long lead times but Sony certainly came through. (No, I am not sponsored. I wish I was!)
What are your first photography memories?
My father was a keen photographer when he was in the Navy - the house was full of photos of exotic places. I always remember colour slide images of Tiger Balm Gardens in Hong Kong and shoe boxes containing hundreds of black and white reportage style photos of the Suez Crisis showing the damage, destruction, the ships, one where my father was stationed, and the various military vehicles and personnel. My father had a Rolleiflex camera, one of those that you looked in from above. I always found it fascinating but wasn't allowed to touch it.
What type of photographs did you start taking initially, and how has that changed over the years?
When I got my first DSLR I would photograph most things but probably took mainly landscapes. I enrolled at Wokingham and Bracknell College in 2007 to study photography and digital imaging at the weekends. It was there that it was suggested I join a camera club. I decided to join Bracknell Camera Club. I had thought about joining Wokingham Photographic Society which was more local to me but being a “Photographic Society” it sounded far too highbrow for me, a mere beginner.
It was at Bracknell where I was introduced to Studio portraiture. I attended a “have a go" workshop and that was it, I was smitten. It is now my preferred genre.
I still take all kinds of other images, I enjoy street photography, a genre which is greatly underrated. I like low light photography and I still occasionally try my hand at wildlife. Macro doesn't do it for me although I have dabbled. It is people as subjects that really float my boat and the challenge of controlling and directing light.
Name three pieces of photographic equipment that you would not want to be without and why
1. My studio lighting kit, it is old and very basic but works just fine. It's all very portable and gives me the freedom to shoot in different and unusual places.
2. I have a selection of lenses for different styles of photography but if I could only choose one it would probably be what I call my holiday lens. It’s a 24-240mm. It means I can travel light and cover most things while I'm out and about. It’s not the sharpest and it’s not my favourite lens but it is so flexible when you are in a new environment.
3. My lens cloth, my lenses always seem to gather dust. My lens cloth is like my comfort blanket.
Where do you get your inspiration from for new ideas and new photographic work?
I guess like a lot of photographers, I sometimes struggle to find inspiration. One of the greatest benefits of being a member of a camera club (or two) is that you are surrounded by the opportunity to be inspired.
A good speaker can inspire me, as can a good image. Mixing with other photographers and trying new things, pushing boundaries, there is so much out there to photograph.
I enjoy the challenge of a project, which is one reason why I have sought to gain the RPS distinctions, that and probably the need for some form of validation. (See Freud).
I usually have at least one project on the go and I am always on the lookout for the next one. I find the right project keeps me interested, and pushes me and my photography forward.
You probably know I admire the photography of Helmut Newton and I enjoy Saul Leiter’s work too.
When did you join WEBCC, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I joined WEBCC in 2018. My photography was in a bit of a rut and needed a "nudge", well more of a "shove" really. Bracknell Camera Club had served me well and taken my photography forward, but I found the club was (and still is) too focused on competitions and I needed to take my photography further than "camera club imagery". You would think joining another camera club would just exacerbate the situation, but I joined with a mind-set of being open to new ideas and influences.
I still don't like competitions and judges that follow the "rules", but what I do really enjoy about WEBCC is the creativity of the club programme, the sharing of images, techniques and skills and the freedom that many of the members express in their own particular styles of photography.
I have spent my whole life "colouring within the lines", following the rules and doing the logical and appropriate thing. There is a danger my photography will go the same way if I'm not careful. Creativity is very difficult for me but I feel being part of WEBCC is helping me in some small way to break out and hopefully enable me to find my own style.
The search continues......