“There’s a first time for everything.” Literally. Metaphorically. Inevitably……..
About a month ago I was at a friends house, a friend who happens to be a photography enthusiast. I was sat in his living room and whilst gazing upward at the shelf to the left of the chimney breast which displays his dozen or so cameras I said “I’d quite like to get into taking photos.” Then as quick as the thought had entered my mind and found it’s way out of my mouth into the ears of my long time creative compadre, he replied “here you go. Have that”, and handed me an Olympus 35RC.
Now having dipped my toe into many creative areas with varying degrees of success, I thought to myself “I should be good at this.” So the next day I strolled into town and purchased myself some pound shop vista plus 200 film just in time for the weekend in which myself, my wife and my two sons were heading down to visit my mother in law and her husband at their new house in Uffculme, mid-Devon. After arriving Friday evening following several hours in the car we ate dinner and decided that we would head to Lyme Regis in the morning.
We woke up, got ourselves ready, jumped in the car and got on our way. Once we arrived I loaded my film into the camera and then I hit my first photography hurdle. What do I take a photo of? I knew how to set the camera to auto, I knew how to focus it, but where do I go from there? Well, I did what any person in my position would likely have done. I took some photos of my children and my wife.
Having completed an entire six weeks of AS level photography about fifteen years ago and having owned several i-phones, I felt confident enough that I could compose a decent photograph. But unbeknown to myself, I had already hit a problem…
The more astute readers will already have noticed that the above photo is in laymen’s term “a bit grainy.” This is because it wasn’t until the following day I noticed some numbers on the front of my camera, which could be rotated to reveal more numbers. After calling my friend who gave me the camera I found out this number was the ISO which I had set to 800. As I previously mentioned, the film in use was Vista “200”… Not 800. A school boy (or girl) error. My confidence dented, I was told to finish the roll in the same setting and see how it turns out.
The following day we decided to head down the Teignmouth, having been there before, I knew the landscape and in contrast to the day before, I found myself thinking about potential spots I could take photographs. Perhaps this is because I was familiar with the area whereas I had never been to Lyme Regis before, or perhaps I was beginning to think like a photographer?
Once we’d parked we set off down the sea front. Teignmouth really is a beautiful seaside town with a very well looked after esplanade however it is home to quite a run down pier. As I said, there were already a few ideas floating around in my mind and the pier seemed to me the most obvious location for a decent photo. Luckily for me, the tide had recently peaked and we were having an extremely lucky weekend with the weather.
The above photo is my favourite photo from the roll. Having started the roll really not knowing what I wanted to take photos of or possibly more importantly, why I wanted to take photos, this photo is one of only two photos from the roll that had any inkling of those two factors.
I can’t put my finger on why it is exactly I felt I wanted to take the photo of the pier but in the moments prior to taking the shot my wife, her mother and my elder son Mylo had gone to get a drink so I thought I’d take my younger son Felix to look at the pier. It was pretty much derelict beyond the arcade at the closest point to the esplanade and I found myself fascinated with it.
The rest of the town had clearly seen a lot of regeneration over recent years and yet here was this relic that saw it’s heydey pass more than one hundred years ago, yet from where I was stood, it seemed as permanent as the sea itself. That was probably the biggest lesson I learned about what I want to achieve by taking photographs. When I looked at that pier, in a short few seconds I’d pondered its entire existence. Not only did I photograph the pier, but I captured my own interest and state of mind in that moment, which hopefully, will inspire a glimmer of intrigue in anyone else that sees the photo. So for now, that will be my ethos when taking photos.
So do I know what I want to take photographs of? Not necessarily. But I do feel as if I know why I want to take photos. The next step is how to take photos? What I see when I look through the viewfinder is only my brains interpretation of the information it is getting, working towards making the photo look the same way in the spectators mind as it does in mine, as I’ve found with my ISO blunder, is going to be a challenge which will only be accomplished my taking more photos. Roll on roll two!
Follow my film photography odyssey on Instagram: @joe.thomlinson.photos