I have been taking photographs for about 50 years. It all started with an ‘Ensign’ box camera (two shutter speeds - Time and Instantaneous - and two apertures - Bright light and Ordinary light) shooting on 120-size roll film. I think this was a gift from one of my grandmothers and I rather hope that my memory is correct for she herself was a photographer. She was physically small, one of seven children, yet managed to travel round both this country and abroad with a plate camera and associated paraphernalia well before the first world war - a genuine intrepid photographer and independent woman. I was sometimes allowed to use my mother’s Zeiss Ikonta (a beautifully engineered folding camera) which allowed more exposure adjustment, although this was reliant on matching my guesses about the lighting conditions with the instructions that came with the film. It was, of course, all black-and-white then, as colour film (and processing) were out of the reach of a pocket-money budget. But the bug had bitten and taken hold, so in addition to the gradual acquisition of picture-taking skills, some early darkroom practice was begun at school although this particular skill-set was not properly developed until much later in life.
Photography became a serious interest to be pursued whenever it could be but inevitably took second place to family, career as a clinical psychologist in the NHS and other life demands, so much of my work over these years are a combination of family snapshots and holiday images. However, the combination of children getting more grown up (and hence more time) and a reasonably stable and successful career meant the time was ripe to further my knowledge and skills.
This took the form of a series of evening classes run to a City & Guilds syllabus at what is now the Bournville Centre for the Visual Arts under the watchful and supportive eye of Mike Stone to whom I owe a good deal for re-igniting my interest and boosting my confidence. Under his tutelage I gained six components of the City & Guilds Photography Modular Certificate, all with Distinction, between 1996 and 1999.
But it was not until retirement from the NHS in 2007 that I could begin to think more seriously about how my engrossing and rewarding hobby could be more fully developed. With the active encouragement and support of my wife, herself a practising painter/printmaker (see visualground.net), I applied for and was accepted on, the MA (Fine Art) course at the University of Chester in 2008. This allowed me to both further my photographic practice as well as extend, expand and encourage my interest in a wider context of art history and critical thinking. I am grateful to all the tutors and fellow students for their contributions to my continuing photographic and artistic education. My MA was awarded in 2011, and shortly after I was awarded with an Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society.
I am still in the in the midst of changing how I see my photography and my relationship with it. The transition from hobbyist to practitioner is the beginning of a process with uncertain and unpredictable outcomes - which is all part of the fun.