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Evocative Photographs celebrating England's beautiful north country

Landscape Photography Blog


Seeing the light

18/02/2011 11:04:00
by Roger Clegg
Headquarters Building, Housesteads, Roman Fort, Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland
I write a column in the excellent local publication “Tyne Valley Express”. If I think they could be of more general interest I will occasionally enter them into our blog. The first one is about my transformation from an amateur to what might loosely be called a “professional” ....................
As a result of tragedy, considerable family illness and redundancy, in 2001 I decided to transform my enthusiasm for photography as a hobby into a means of contributing to the family income. Did my attempt to enter the intensely competitive business of professional photography mean that I was a good photographer? Contrary to what you may imagine, my photography was rarely inspiring, more to the point in retrospect it was rubbish. I had a huge knowledge of equipment and photographic techniques but seldom ever produced a good picture.
Two things set the alarm bells ringing. My wife’s response to my pictures, the very few that did not end up in the bin first, was almost always “That sort of thing just leaves me cold!” Hmmmmm, surely one’s spouse should recognise one’s obvious ability!
Tynedale Council said they would buy some of my pictures if they were good enough. Amongst their requirements was Hadrian’s Wall. Easy I thought – got plenty of those. The more I looked through my pictures of the Wall the more I realised that almost all of my pictures of Hadrian’s Wall had one thing in common – you could not see Hadrian’s Wall. I had been leaning on it photographing over it or away from it, or it was frequently either out of sight over the top or round the corner of a crag; slightly worrying for my aspirations as a professional photographer. I could not even photograph what I thought I was photographing!
I have spent most of my working life in sales, marketing, and small business consultancy – it was now time to apply some of this business experience to myself.
I asked myself what did I want to photograph and why? What did I want my photographs to show people? Who did I want to see them? What did I want to tell them? Also, and very importantly, I wanted to do all this and enjoy doing it.
This column is not aimed at prospective professional photographers. In forthcoming issues of Tyne Valley Express we will look at simple ways in which you can improve your picture taking to get more enjoyment and satisfaction from your photographs. It is something I wish I had done as a hobbyist and a father who loved photographing his kids. If I had I would have enjoyed my hobby immeasurably more and not left my wife quite rightly feeling cold towards my pictures. She now thinks I am pretty good.
The picture at the top is from my first morning as the new me. I daren't show a "before" picture out of embarrassment.

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