How I started in photography

My dad always enjoyed photography so this was part of our family growing up. He would have his Pentax SLR with him on family outings and a roll or two of Kodak Gold. My mum, however, also played her part by meticulously organising and putting together family albums- placing the small photographs under the clear acetate sheets against the white backing board. We amassed album after album, chronologically cataloguing our family life. This has continued to the present, and when I go back to visit my parents each year in Yorkshire I love to thumb through the 40 or so albums.

My interest in photography began when I was around 17 (2002). This was a strange time in photography as it was the time when film was winding down and digital started to become more prevalent. I was at first interested in the technical side of things, so when I got a digital point and shoot with no manual control I quickly came to realise that what I really needed was a proper camera with manual control. I saved up and in 2004 I bought a film SLR, right when the first consumer DSLR’s were coming out. I continued with this for a while, mostly taking landscapes and travel images, but with a student budget and ever increasing costs of film and processing my use of the camera dwindled and after around 2009 I never touched the camera again. I did have a little success during this time with the camera- I would take landscape photos on Fuji Velvia, an amazing slide film on the verge of being discontinued today. The colours and lack of grain were amazing and I had the odd cibachrome print made, one of which still hangs in my parent’s house in the UK.

After this period, digital took off, I started a job and my photography fell by the wayside until 2012 when I bought a DSLR. However after a brief period of use, I started to lose interest again. That was until I tried a prime lens for the first time. What an experience! I was forced to move, to think about my shots and to work harder on composition. I had to learn to zoom with my feet! Added to that was the fact that with a fast prime lens I was able to blur the background and get shots that were impossible before. My enthusiasm was born again and so far I haven’t looked back.

Soon after I addressed the other issue that prevented me taking more pictures- the camera was too big so I left it at home. I sold all my gear and used the money to buy a mirrorless camera and two tiny prime lenses. That was a turning point for me. I would take my camera along with me much more often and take more pictures as a result. The manual controls of my camera also made me realise that I wanted to use film again, specifically black and white. I joined WCC a few months ago with this in mind with the aim of learning to print in a traditional darkroom. That paid off and with the assistance and advice of Greg Bell I was quickly able to learn to make prints, a process that I absolutely love which can be as frustrating as it is rewarding!

I learnt that I wasn’t interested in taking landscape photos, I was interested in taking photographs with a human element. Portraits or street photographs are now my main focus and I am absolutely hooked. As far as gear goes, I use both film and digital cameras. A perfect camera in my opinion is one that is small enough for me to carry often, but large enough that is produces fantastic quality images. I’m no longer interested in a huge lens or the highest resolution. I’m interested in capturing moments in everyday life, on the street, or with friends and family.

It took me a long time to figure out where my photographic interests really were, but now that I have I enjoy photography more than ever and I cherish the memories that my mum and dad have preserved. So with that in mind I hope to keep on taking pictures, documenting life, and maybe someday I will have a book shelf full of albums too.

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