Below, Sue shares some of her photography thoughts and processes with us, along with a selection of her images, more of which can be viewed on her website
Where did you start in photography?
I started photography in 1978 whilst living in Bristol. It is an easy date for me to remember, as I knew I was expecting my first child and panicked; I was going to be stuck at home with nothing to keep my mind active. I enrolled in a night school class of darkroom processing. At the end of the year some of us joined up to form a workshop to continue self-learning with support from each other. As a challenge we all joined the RPS and we all (five) took and passed our Licentiateship and then joined Bristol Photographic Society en mass. Two of us, Graham Reeves and myself, went on to eventually get a Fellowship. The rest is history as they say.
What is your involvement with the RPS?
We moved from Bristol to Milton Keynes in 1984 and I became very involved with the RPS. I joined the committee of the Visual Art Group and used to run seminars at MK Hospital in the Post Graduate Centre. These were well-attended events, we even cooked a lunch on site; great team effort. On moving to Devon, I set up the Visual Art Group here which is still thriving, now in the capable hands of Di Wilkins. I was asked to be a panel member of the Licentiate panel some years ago, and subsequently joined Visual Art Panel (now known as Fine Art). To add to the work load I was asked to be on what used to be called the Distinctions Advisory Board (DAB), now the Distinctions Committee (DC). This was a very challenging, first of all I had a steep learning curve of the history, so much effort goes on behind the scenes that Members are totally unaware of. The DC are continually striving to improve the way Distinctions are run and keeping up with the ever-changing world of technology, it must be even more challenging in the current Covid-19 lockdown (at the time of writing) I have now left the DC and the Chair Fine Art Distinctions and also sit on the newly formed Landscape Panel.
What is your approach to photography?
My approach to photography is to take my time. Not to grab the camera and just keep shooting in the belief that one will work. When first arriving at a venue, I leave my camera in the car. I walk around, look, observe in detail and only then, if I begin observe subtlety’s and begin to relate and respond to my surroundings, do I pick up the camera. As a predominantly Landscape worker, time is on my side. To be successful, a Landscape Photograph needs to communicate. If the photographer does not feel that passion and have an emotional response to a situation then how can the image communicate to the viewer?
What is your favourite or most useful piece of equipment?
My most useful piece of equipment is my camera – I am not an equipment addict, it is not the tools but the mind that makes a picture successful
What tips can you give to help other Regional members?
My tips to others would be not to try too hard, but search for your passion and the images will find you. Pull out all the stops.
Stop – Look and see what is around you, does something attract your attention? Don’t forget to look behind you and down at your feet.
Think – What do you feel, what is your response to the environment, listen, touch, use all your senses to get a real sense of place and feel that emotional response.
Observe – A thorough look, the more you look the more you see, check fine detail, the light, and any outstanding features. Remember the tones, contrast, all the elements that make a good image.
Prepare – What shutter speed will get you the best result, what exposure will give you the mood that you feel. Know your camera and be sure to use the correct settings and most suitable lens for the best results.
Shoot – When all is in place, set up your shot, before pressing the shutter look at the corners of your intended image, is your point of focus where you want it to be, by now there should be feeling the immersion and anticipation as you press the shutter and all the elements come together.