In focus friday - The Stone Mason

06 July 2018

SIG: Documentary

This week, we hear from Maureen Connelly LRPS who submitted this environmental portrait for the June round of the Documentary Group's bi-monthly competition. Mo served as Documentary group chair for many years and now that she's no longer a member of the voting panel, she can finally enter the competition she setup.

Hi, Mo. Can you give us a little background about the shot?

I love Salisbury Cathedral. I’m doing a project with the Cathedral on the 650 volunteers who work there. I went on a tour of the stoneyard, the largest of the nine Cathedrals in England which have their own stone yards. I find it difficult to take photos when I'm with other people who are not photographers, so my intention was to take some test shots.   The photo was taken on a Sony RX100 III, set to intelligent auto – so useful to fit in a pocket and great for test shots.  Also, the stone masons work in the workshop during the winter and in the summer are mainly working on repairing or replacing within and without the Cathedral. There were only two men working when we went through. It was not a grab shot but it was not a set up shot, I waited until we’d talked and he’d gone back to work and forgotten me. It was done with the permission of the mason on 7 June 2018.

I’m hoping that the Clerk of Works will give me permission to return later to do a proper photo essay, including the men at work in the cathedral as well as in the stone yard.

What was your plan for the day?

To learn more about the Cathedral and those who make it the place it is today.

What’s your routine just before heading out with your camera?

Check the camera and the batteries. I'm not very good on routine, but having gone out without batteries and/or memory cards I've learned my lesson.

While you’re out what makes you press the shutter release?

Something that pleases me. I can go out for a day and never take an image. Sometimes I find that I prefer to enjoy what I'm seeing rather than taking an image. 

Where can we find more of your work?

Nowhere. I tried flickr, but never took to it. I've thought of setting up a website but never got around to it. One day!

what essential piece of advice would give your novice self?

Take your time and take what interests you. Stop trying to please other people. Enjoy taking pictures of people, no one will bite you.

Which camera has been your all time favourite and why?

I use a Sony 7rII, which I love and would replace with the latest model if this one broke. I can concentrate on the picture I want to take without worrying about the camera. I can handhold it in low light and stuff it in my handbag when I don't want to carry much kit. It's mirrorless and lighter than DSLRs which, imho, don't do anything better. I gave up my Canon equipment as it was too heavy to lug around. My secret love is the Pentax MX I bought in 1978, and which was the first decent camera I ever owned. It hasn't been used for a long time, but I wouldn't part with it for anything – who knows one day I might use it again. 

What’s the best purchase you’ve made for less than £100?

A stretchy, thick and wide, camera strap. I bought it years ago in the US on a photo holiday when the normal strap on the camera was irritating the back of my neck after walking round with a DSLR all day. Embarrassingly it has Bryce Canyon Utah printed along it but think you can get them anywhere. 

Thanks Mo. And thanks for looking after the group for so long.

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