By: Steev Stamford
Whenever I tell people my hobby is photography they invariably ask me one of two questions. If they too enjoy photography it is "What camera do you use". Always strikes me as a boring question - "At the end of the day" my normal reply starts "they're all boxes with holes in and a fancy timer."
The non photographers who in the name of trying to seem interested ask "So what do you photograph?" I've yet to come up with a suitably witty reply to this despite being asked it countless times, so until the day dawns when that witty reply enters the vacant lot that is my skull arrives they get "Anything except people." And that about sums up my approach to photography - anything except people.
So many times now I set off to photograph a particular subject and come back, Monty Python style with "Something completely different". Last year by way of example I visited a zoo - choc full obviously with animals of all sorts - so what do I come back with? Well an image (rather a nice image even if I do say myself) - of . . . a mushroom I found in one of the flower beds.
Do things ever change? Seemingly not. My latest photographic venture saw me go to a restored and working steam powered pumping station. Beautiful pieces of steel and brass, lovingly painted and polished to within a few thou of their lives moved silently in the kind of balerenic dance that only massive Victorian engineering can manage. So what do I come back with? A rather comical image of a radio controlled 'Henry Hoover' that was doing the rounds of the pumping station cooling pond. Seemingly bored with building radio controlled boats the owner of this comical masterpiece had decided what the world needed most was a radio controlled, floating Henry Hoover- complete with a water squirting nozzle and a handle that flapped up and down at the touch of a button on his control unit.
And for me at least this is the beauty of photography. It encourages me to see things. I look for places to go, times and days when places not normally open are - but just for a brief spell - Heritage Open Weekends being a prime example.
I've learned so much from photography - not just f stops, ISOs, and what kind of shutter speed do I need to either get or prevent movement in an image. I've learned the names of so many flowers and animals. Explored towns and cities I'd never have done without the incentive of my camera. Met people who have patiently explained their hobby to me - and on many an occasion allowed me to places normally out of bounds.
What I love most about photography is that it opens my eyes to the wonderful world we live in and we're only here once so best make the most of it. But I still don't photograph people.