I didn’t have a burning desire to become a photographer from a young age, as mentioned before I wanted to be a fashion designer, writer and/or a ballet dancer. I always enjoyed looking at photos, and have a large collection of old family ones. In my teens and twenties, I would carry around a small snapshot camera, but that really was it.
I started to do creative writing classes, and one tutor was very encouraging about my writing. One day he said he felt I had an ear for dialogue, and would be good at scriptwriting. Although I loved films, TV dramas and the theatre, I had never thought about scriptwriting. And there I go again thinking I’m going down one road, end up taking a different turn, and start to study scriptwriting. Like with most things in my life the moment I become interested in a subject I like to learn as much as possible. Checking around my local area, a University had a site at the local college that ran a two year film making course. I applied, and was granted an interview. Then something odd happened during that interview. I was told the filmmaking course was full. I was disappointed. I didn’t want to wait a whole year (I’m an Aries, which explains a lot) to get on to it the following Autumn. The tutor who interviewed me made a suggestion why not do the photography course instead. As I had already set myself up for returning to full time education, and thought what I would learn on the photography course would help towards filmmaking, I signed up.
I wasn’t big into photography before then, I did have a good SLR film camera, and enjoyed taking photos of family and friends. By this time the world was well and truly digital. Everything on the course was set up for digital, with a module on how to develop black & white film. As this wasn’t planned for, and I was funding myself through University, I couldn’t afford to buy all things digital (at this point I wouldn’t have had a clue what to buy anyway). Out of the 14 students on the course I was the only one who did the whole two years with a film camera, and was a little worried about this. As time went on I was glad I was learning with a film camera, I felt I was learning how to take a photography, not just take one, checking via the view finder, and delete if not happy, and start again. I would have to use a whole film sometime 36 exposures before developing and seeing all my mistakes. Of course during the time I did do some digital work, the college had camera’s we could borrow. Another thing instead of using a PC, which I was use to, the college only had Apple mac. Oh dear, it was like going back to the first time I had seen a computer, and the tutor really did have to teach me the ‘ABC’ of Apple mac, which we both found frustrating.
Over the two years, I did all right with my photography, in fact getting good results and comments on my work, but never conquering the Mac while there, thankfully you can get Photoshop for a PC. I did enjoy the dark room, still believe you can only get a true black and white from film not a digital camera set to B&W. Although only two years at University the digital world had moved fast, and to work professionally you needed to be digital. Which meant taking, downloading, editing and supplying all photos digitally, I invested in a Canon 5D MK2, (luckily the Canon lens I already had for my film SLR fitted the new camera), new PC, Photoshop, scanner and what seem to be loads of leads.
The next question was what type of photography did I want to do? With my background in fashion, and interested in film, I started to do some fashion and taking film stills, with a few product shots, events and parties thrown in.
Then I go and move from Tunbridge Wells near London, to rural coastal Dorset, not much call for fashion and film stills down on the Jurassic coast, just a bunch of old fossils. Yet again the road takes me another way, and re-think is needed…….
I did end up making several short films, a feature length documentary, short films on local events for local TV, and all done on an Apple mac as Final cut pro doesn’t work on a PC. The first short film I made ‘The Return’ was screened at the BFI in London, as part of the Women in film festival.