Photographs that inspire me – A series

Chris Killip

From Chris Killip’s body of work and book In Flagrante I’ve always been fond of this image. I have the poster showing this image from Killips’ Serpentine Gallery exhibition. Martin Parr has a large print of this in his office. There’s elements in it which remind me of my own childhood. The duffle coat, the sock and sandals. I looked a lot like that little boy. The man reminds me of a character Ken Baggaley  who used to live just down the road from us at Salisbury Crescent. I’m sure he’d often wear a jacket like that and a shirt buttoned at the top just like that. He used to work at a local engineering firm where my Dad worked and if he saw you he’d shout across the road at you, “hey up how tha goin on?” no matter who you were with. This image was taken up in the North East of England.

Drinking in the morning sun

I’m not quite sure why I like this shot but I do. Maybe it’s the lighting, the blue sky or the two figures sat down at each edge which give the composition balance ? The two boys stood on the rocks or the white dog in the middle which stands out from the scene and almost looks sculptural in its pose ? It’s my kind of landscape image. On a clear night from that vantage point you can see the glow of the city lights of Manchester in front of you and Sheffield to the right. I’m lucky to live within a ten minute drive of this escarpment in the Peak District National Park. I’m lucky and I know it. I’ve been thinking about luck just recently. Feeling lucky is a state of mind and believe you me I’m a lucky man.

Teaching Photography

I’ve just completed a morning’s teaching session. It was a free “Taster” for the Photography for Beginners Course I’m running in October. I try and teach in the Adult Learning Sector. I say “try” because I’m still not sure whether I’m a successful teacher or not. I’ve had some good feedback in the past so I guess I must be doing something reasonably right but it’s not for me to say whether I’m a good teacher or not. The proof of course is how my leaners learn, whether and how  they progress. Most of my learners come to my classes with a super duper digital camera they’ve bought but not quite plucked up the courage and confidence to get it out of Auto or Program Mode. The Manual is usually as thick as a brick and in several different languages and assumes that the new owner knows what an Aperture and a Shutter Speed is and the difference between white balance and ISO etc. That’s where I enter the room. I have to go right back to basics and I mean right back. Exactly how one explains Aperture and Shutter Speed and how they combine to create a “correct” exposure you’d think would be relatively straightforward but you’d be wrong. Thinking the best way to explain the concept  is not easy. Even the filling the bucket of water analogy can be problematic when one learner queries what about water pressure coming through the hose ?  Sometimes I think they’re doing it deliberately. I had one lady adamant there was no correct exposure meter indication when in manual mode despite me showing it her in the camera manual and suggesting she just needed to find the setting on her camera. As this was a taster session I was not even going near Exposure Compensation ! I think I’m patient. My learners have very different learning abilities and I still remember how long it took  me for the exposure penny to drop in my early twenties. I pretty much taught myself.  I don’t mind that they don’t at first get it because I’ll keep explaining it to them until they do in whatever simplified way I can. Keep it simple stupid. Cameras these days are not easy either. While they’ve become easier to get the perfectly exposed shot the multitude of function buttons all doing pretty much the same thing i.e. setting aperture and shutter (landscape, portrait. sport mode etc)  are confusing and intimidating to the unknowing. Many learners in their enthusiasm jump ahead of themselves and want to know what the thing is before I’ve explained the thing they need to know in order to understand the what the thing is, if you get my meaning. How do you explain how depth of field is achieved for example without first explaining the different combinations of aperture and shutter speed to create exposure and then going on to explain how the choice of aperture affects the depth of field and has to be considered in your choice. I’m not asking for help here folks. After three or four years I’ve pretty much got it sorted but it’s not always easy.

I finished off by showing some of my less challenging work. Trying to explain that photography is not just weddings and portraits is another eye opener for new learners.

Make Art not War !


I’ve managed to get out with the camera today.  A little place out of town has had its Annual Armed Forces Day. I took the dog. It’s like a summer fete but here with the emphasis on celebrating our Armed Forces. I thought I might get a “Make Love Not War – See driver for Details” car sticker but not a chance of it. I went a couple of years back so I pretty much knew the kind of shots I was going to get and was looking for. Still I’m always open for the unexpected and basically whatever catches my eye. In my notebook list of things to look out for I have t-shirts. I’m drawn to the odd t-shirts that people wear and slowly building up a bit of a collection of t-shirt photos. I asked this young lady and her parents If I could take a picture, stressing I wanted the t-shirt and not the girl’s face. I wanted to protect her identity. I wanted a generic t-shirt shot but I love the way the girl’s smile is repeated in the curve of the writing “I’ve got” and the top line of the square. Yeah I’m rather pleased with this image.

Saturday Karma

It looks like my Flickr Feed has got its knickers in a twist. I’m not given to photograph Gorillas in zoos or flowery landscapes. It’s just not my bag. I’m not going to waste my time trying to get to the bottom of the anomaly either. There’s friends to visit, hands to shake, beer to be drunk, gossip to be gossiped.

In the meantime here’s a recent seascape from my much needed break at one of our favourite coastal destinations. Me, the wife and dog. I’ve just being listening to Radiohead’s 2017 Glastonbury performance of Karma Police and tears started rolling down my cheeks. I never thought that would happen ? This image seems somehow appropriate ………”Phew for a minute I lost myself”