Last week, I went to present my ‘Taking Nature’ photographs to a photographic club in Huddersfield. In the past few years, I’ve talked to all sorts of groups from bird and wildlife clubs, to the residents of sheltered housing, supper clubs and local community events. But never, until now, have I presented to a photographic club and despite their organiser describing themselves as a bunch of ‘happy amateurs’, I still had some misgivings about how my photography would be received.
I’m always well prepared for my talks so, on this occasion, I decided to note a few bullet points of areas I would like to cover as an introduction and throughout the talk. The night before, I reviewed my slideshow and realised that my bullet points would mean nothing to anyone but me unless I got my head in gear and worked out what I really wanted to say. And, as often is the case, at 4.30am on the day, it came to me loud and clear!
I have never even been to a photographic club and have had no training whatsoever. I am completely self taught. The nearest I get to a photographic club is talking to a good friend who is a great landscape photographer and has been a club member for many years. I wonder what he makes of my images, but I can well imagine him looking at a picture of mine and suggesting removing a highlight here and there, coming to a different angle, checking the focus and offering advice on a different depth of field.
What I’d like him, and you, to do, is to look behind the picture and try to understand the subject: ask what it is, what is it doing there and why. I don’t take my photographs just for myself. I always have in mind those who will listen to my illustrated talks or look at my website. When I’m shooting my subjects, I like to record their behaviour, a nice portrait or to show them in their environment. With that in mind, I often switch to video mode and take a short movie clip. This will bring the subject to life in my presentations and help me to explain the background story to the image.
I think I articulated my 4.30am thoughts reasonably well and as it happens, my club audience was very gracious. We had a good time. I hope members left determined to study their subjects, whatever they are, and to appreciate more than just the quality of the art. Maybe, even, to see wildlife photography as a new challenge for themselves. For my part, there isn’t a more interesting and fascinating form of art.
This first presentation to a photographic club, also, made me examine and put into words for myself and for them what is important to my nature photography and how best to share the results. Hopefully, my images will improve as a result. I hope so.