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Anthony 1S

Anthony Topham

Jana Murray interviews Anthony Topham, an RPS member from Salisbury, about how he finds peace through photography and what he learnt on the RPS Open University Digital Photography Course

Q. When did you first become interested in photography?

A. I first became interested in photography as a teenager. My late father had a Zenith E SLR, which he let me use on occasions. Then at the age of 16 I undertook a fine arts course in photography in the sixth form, where I learned the basic skills of photography, how to develop B&W film and how to print in B&W. This got me hooked. Having a family early in life took my focus away from photography for a while but I got back into photography in 2006, buying my first DSLR, a Nikon D40x, and it has progressed further as a result. 


Q. You recently completed the RPS Open University Digital Photography Course. Why did you choose to sign up for the course and what did you learn on the course?

A. I was looking for a course that would increase my knowledge of photography both in taking images and in understanding the camera better, whilst also learning how to critique images constructively. As I am a member of the RPS, it was one that was brought to my attention when I was browsing their website. This course ticked all the boxes for me. Although it is predominantly aimed at the beginner, it is also ideal for those who are wishing to brush up on their skills as a photographer. 


Q: What did you learn on the course?

A: I increased my knowledge on how to use the camera - while I thought I knew a fair bit about the camera, there was plenty I clearly didn’t know. As a result, my images instantly became better. I also learned how to use Lightroom ‘properly’ as before I was just ‘guessing’. The benefits were obvious to me as many people started commenting on my work. I have even sold some images in print, something which I could only have dreamed of before the course.


Q. What was most useful about the course and would you recommend the course?

A. The most useful element of the course for me was learning how to look at images in detail and how to critique them in a constructive way. As a result, you view your own work differently. 

Many people have commented on my images and even gone as far as to say, ‘I wish I could take photos as good as yours’. I ask to see them and find that their images are very good, and sometimes better, and this is as a result of what I have learned in the course. This course has given me great confidence in moving forward with my photography and in trying many different things. It’s always ongoing which makes it so much fun.If you get the chance to do a photography course, then I would thoroughly recommend this one, as it is ideally suited for everyone, regardless of what level of photographer you are. After all, every day is a school day!


Q. What do you like to photograph?

A. I predominantly enjoy landscape photography as I find it calming. This has very much helped me personally during the last year. I find it very therapeutic being at one with nature. I did a wedding workshop and an art nude workshop as well this year and have increased my knowledge on lighting, posing and the use of flash. I am happiest when I have a camera in my hand, whether it’s my DSLR or my iPhone X, and am able to click away regardless of what I am taking. Several recent days out have resulted in me taking a completely different style of photography, purely down to the ‘boring’ location. Instead of going for the conventional "frame the image and click" I've been forced to use my imagination a little more to get a desired effect. As a result of this I've achieved images that I was happy with.


Q. Please can you share three of your favourites photos and the stories behind them?

A. The problem with photography is you have a great many images that are ‘favourites’, but I have boiled it down to these three. My journey in life this last year has been a traumatic one. When I’m out doing photography, I am always looking for peace and tranquillity and these three images very much reflect this and my idea of what it looks like for me.

The calm after the storm… this was taken on the day of storm Eleanor, down in Swanage. We initially were hoping for big crashing waves; however the wind was blowing out to sea. I liked the quietness of the pier and how it looked in the weather, though the sky was clearing. I liked the leading lines and the symmetry of the pier.

This is a sunrise not far from where I live, in Winterbourne Stoke. It was during the summer this year, and an early start, but I was looking for something that shows off the countryside that I live in. This, I think, very much portrays it and is something I find very peaceful to watch.

The Shad in London, by Tower Bridge. I came by this completely by chance while photographing Tower Bridge. I happened to walk down this street after being in a restaurant and it was just so peaceful, with no one around, which is very unusual in London. I like how you are drawn through the street by the leading lines, uninterrupted by anything.


Q. What’s next on your photographic journey?

A. I have several goals in photography. The main focus at the moment is to achieve the LRPS or ‘L’, and this is something that I am currently working on. I have also been asked to do some weddings, having done one this year that I enjoyed immensely. 

I am also encouraged by the fact that so many people enjoy my images, and that when they see them, it brings them some sense of well-being. This is something that I could never have imagined a year ago. I would also like to earn a living from it in the future, but for now I’m happy doing a few bits here and there while I continue learning new skills in photography and perfecting the ones I already have.


This article was originally published in November 2018