It’s new year resolution time
2005 has been a spectacular year for me, and one that has exceeded all my expectations and dreams. I had my first photographs published in a magazine, sold my first images through my image library, and got my first commission. That’s not to say that it’s been an easy ride. Far from it. I’ve come to realise just how much hard work it takes to make it as a professional. All you have to do is look at the pile of reject letters I have collected over the past year to see how tough it’s been. But nonetheless, I am leaving 2005 on a photographic high, and am striving to succeed even more during 2006.
Best photograph I took in 2005 – Sandwood Bay, Sutherland, Scotland. This secluded beach had been somewhere that I had wanted to visit for a few years, ever since learning about it through Colin Prior’s wonderful photographs and subsequent tales of its isolated beauty from a friend. So when I took a week’s holiday in the Outer Hebrides with a couple of friends during the summer, we decided to make the detour to Sandwood Bay and camp overnight on the beach to enable me to try to get the photographs I desired. The day that we took the trek to the beach with our shoulders heavy from the packs we were carrying was beautiful. The sky was clear with just enough clouds to make it interesting. As the sun set that evening, the light and colours were truly spectacular. An experience made even more special as we had the beach practically to ourselves (although we were sharing it with a family of ducks). However, our good luck with the weather didn’t last long and the next morning we woke to a grey sky and drizzle so we quickly packed up our wet tents and set on our way to the islands, happy in the knowledge that I had some great images exposed already.
Best bit of kit I bought in 2005 – Hasselblad 503CW. Moving to medium format has slowed down my photography and made me think more about the picture I am taking. That in itself has improved both my technique and the results I achieve. Also, seeing those first slides come back from the lab and being blown away by the clarity and detail they contained is a feeling I will never forget.
Best book I bought in 2005 – Mountain Light by Galen Rowell. It may not be a newly published book by any means, but Galen Rowell’s photographs are spectacular. And when you read about the mountaineering feats he accomplished in order to take the images, he becomes a true inspiration.
Best lesson I learned in 2005 – I may not be fortunate enough to live in a part of the country with the natural beauty of the Yorkshire Dales or the Scottish Highlands. But this year I have learned that if you look for it, my local landscape is also beautiful, albeit on a smaller scale.
Best photographic experience I had in 2005 – I was planning a trip to the North Yorkshire coast when the Buncefield oil depot, little more than 10 miles from my home, exploded. I instantly postponed my plans for the coast and headed down to Hemel Hempstead instead to take advantage of this major national incident. I spent two days in the area taking photographs of the smoke plume and fire, mingling with the press photographers, trying to get the best shot. It was quite an experience, probably because it was so out of the ordinary.
My Photographic Resolutions for 2006
As well as the general aim of succeeding even more in 2006 than I did this year, I have set myself some specific goals for the coming year too.
To improve my mountain skills – I enjoy hill walking and being in the outdoors, as do all landscape photographers. However, when I’m not with my hill-savvy friends, I frequently find myself hesitating at my ability to cope with less than perfect conditions. So, this coming year I shall take a mountain skills course to give me the confidence to go after the photographs I really want to get.
To hold a local exhibition – Another landscape photographer I know recently held an exhibition of his work that he enthused about and claimed was an invaluable experience. He recommended that I hold one too, which I hope to do this year.
To enter more photo competitions – This is a bit of a perennial resolution that is frequently ignored. I started eagerly with the same promise to myself at the start of 2005, entering some competitions in the first few months of the year, only to start slipping once the novelty started wearing off and the “You have not won this time” rejection slips started rolling in. This year, I shall be more focussed and committed, and strive to win, instead of just to enter.