Of late I have barely had time to catch my breath on the photography front; first there was the holiday in Greece, second there was the small matter of a wedding to photograph in Northumberland, then there were preparations for Westfest in Didsbury and the chance to do some food photography for a Chinese restaurant which is having a radical makeover. On top of this I need to dig out a load of Glastonbury photographs for a friend whose laptop has died and also need to sort out some photos of a wedding I attended as a guest. Given the day job there are currently not enough hours in the day and prioritising is proving somewhat problematical. Not that I’m complaining, just the opposite – being so busy with the photographs helps me to get a little taste of what it might be like to do this full time, should such a miraculous event ever come to pass. Indeed, it has been suggested of late that I need to change the title of the blog – the argument being that it only takes one piece of commissioned work for you to be no longer considered an amateur.
I myself am not so sure about this. Whilst some of my photographs please me a great deal, others are consigned to the trash bin pretty much immediately. Now I’m sure that this also applies to pro photographers also but, to my mind, I will always be an amateur until I am able to use the camera properly and understand all its functions without recourse to books and software. I still can’t shake off the fact that at the end of the day I am only dabbling. In other words the title may stay a while longer. That said work has started on constructing a proper website on which I can perhaps present a more professional face to the world so watch this space!
So, as mentioned above, last weekend saw me photograph my second wedding on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Once more I was very lucky to be presented with a stunning location (see pictures) and perfect weather. As posted previously, both the weddings I have photographed have been low-key, informal affairs where my brief has simply been to lurk about capturing the happy day and doing a few group shots to keep the traditionalists happy. Northumberland is probably my favourite place in the UK. It has miles of empty beaches, great food, great beer, an abundance of castles and some of the most unspoiled countryside in England. Unlike, say, the Lake District, Northumberland still provides tranquillity and a feeling that you are there on your own. Yes there are other holidaymakers but relatively few compared to the UK’s other vacation centres. In my opinion, and it is just that – a personal opinion – I would much rather visit Northumberland that Cornwall or The Lakes or Pembrokeshire. It’s a special, unpretentious place that has an air of magic and history, which is difficult to shake off.
As a wedding venue Holy Island is pretty difficult to beat (although only if you are planning a small wedding). And, as the wedding photographer, it would be pretty difficult for even me to cock up such is its beauty. So, I am now in the process of looking through hundreds of photographs, weeding out the rubbish or the unflattering whilst still trying to capture the fun of the day. It’s a difficult and time consuming job and I have utmost respect for wedding photographers who do this for a living; it is stressful (even when photographing an informal occasion) and the spectre of ‘doing something stupid’ looms large. That said I have learned from my last experience as to what works, the importance of backing up, the respect given to you by guests when informed that you are ‘the photographer’. Who knows if I will photograph another wedding? But at least I can say that I did it and did it to the best of my abilities, with a lot of help from the natural beauty of Northumberland.
In other news, a photograph of mine has been blown up to giant size to be used on an empty shop front in Didsbury for Westfest 2010 http://www.westfest.org.uk/. This strikes me as being kind of cool and the sort of thing that hopefully shows that I am moving in the right direction. Having input into the design and providing the image has let me be creative in a way that the day job isn’t able to. Once its up I should be able to post an image to the blog so you can see it in all its glory. It really is great to see local business coming together and presenting a united identity in the face of ever-encroaching Tescos, Weatherspoons, Starbucks, etc, etc [delete as applicable]. I am going to be around in Didsbury on the weekend of Westfest to take some pictures and hopefully sell some prints so do say hello if you get the chance to attend.
I am of the opinion that some of the landscapes I took in Northumberland last weekend are among my best. I know I say this a lot and I said it about the pictures from Coniston in Easter this year but I suppose this shows that I am improving; I have certainly become more technically proficient. However, I am very aware that I need to get my ass in gear with regards to self promotion, self confidence and building up a body of work that stands on its own. Some way to go yet but, as I have said before, to be where I am now is quite staggering considering where I was less than one and half years ago. The difference is doing something that I genuinely love, something that I never get bored with and something that excites and interests me in equal measure. When I first bought the camera I half expected photography to be another hobby that I would pick up and then throw aside in anger when it transpired that I couldn’t do it. This hasn’t happened (even though I really couldn’t do it for a long period in time) and I’m not sure why – it’s expensive, it’s technical, it eats up hours and hours of my time. Maybe, at the age of 42 I have found something that I am OK at. There’s hope for us all. Comments welcome as always.