talking in pictures


daisy bush | humphrey and grace

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

Elliott Erwitt

When I was a child I was given my first camera. It was a Kodak Disc camera. I loved it. I took photos of the shed in the garden, my brother and sister, my toys. That old camera is my first proper memory of photography, the time I began talking in pictures. One particular photo comes to mind of my sister up to her shoulders, without a head. What is now considered a style I took by accident but it was one of my favourite photos at the time. I guess you could say I’ve always liked a quirky crop…

That old camera is long gone, and a selection of others with it. But my love of photographs has never waned. I can remember spending hours pouring over old photo albums. Those from my childhood, or further back in my family history, always with a few loose photographs tucked in the pages waiting to be included in the story. Some with faces I knew and some were so old or distant that I didn’t recognise them at all. I love that a photograph captures a moment in time and even if it isn’t especially remarkable when you take it, it becomes a detail of the intricate patterns of life. Over time I have inherited old family photos, one is of the dresser in my Grandparent’s home framed off centre. So very modern it it’s way yet taken decades ago. Countless photos of pets and landscapes and that solo tree in the sunrise? I have it. A photo my mum took when I was a teenager. I don’t know if my family are typical, if everyone has what must seem to be random photo’s or if I’m just pre-programmed to look at the world in all it’s detail. There will always be a time in the future when I look back and a photograph will stir a memory or feeling, even those throw away moments with a cup of tea that I go out of my way to photograph. They will remind me of a time and place, maybe a smell or taste. A photograph is a powerful thing.

I guess it is no surprise then that I adore photography. If I have a quiet moment, a time when I would once have read a book or sat with a cup of tea, the chances are now that I’ll be reading my camera manual and fiddling with camera settings or photographing that cup of tea. I feel miffed when I haven’t taken a photograph for a few days, it makes me glum. Instagram has certainly honed and developed this love of mine though it isn’t the whole story, neither beginning nor end. Many of the photographs I take make it no further than my computer, the personal moments and family scenes, because some things are too precious for this online world and we all should keep a little mystery about us.

I haven’t a favourite subject to photograph as such, I’ll happily take pictures of anything that catches my eye because I am not sure I want to specialise, I like to explore everything. There are some things I photograph more than others, flowers in particular I can’t pass without wanting to capture. Their cleverness amazes me, they grow from nothing to incredible then on to nothing again in a season or less! Think about it, it’s amazing. The cups & flowers I post on Instagram are some of my favourite photographs to create if for no other reason than the utter absorption in arranging and rearranging them until they’re right.

I don’t profess to be an expert. There are many many people who are much better photographers than I am and that’s ok, I’m not competing, more finding immense pleasure in capturing time. I don’t yet fully understand my camera, I bought it at the end of last year and it is my first ‘proper’ camera having upgraded from a Canon 1100d to a Canon 7d mkII. I have had no training or teaching since a terms extra curricular study of developing 35mm film in a darkroom while I was at university and before that a term taking photographs with college cameras and black and white film while at sixth form (does that show my age a bit…?). I didn’t even have a camera at the time. But what I do enjoy is learning as I go, improving my technique and editing as I’m learning. I’d love to use the motion picture settings one day, that’s on my to-do list.

Having digital cameras has made an immense difference to the volume of photographs I take. Not worrying about the cost of developing a film of which half the photos might be out of focus or just wrong makes this passion of mine so much easier. Anyone can take a photo, anyone. Most of us have phones with us at all times that include a camera. I would encourage you not to overlook the ordinary moments. Recently I came across some photos of Anna when she was learning to crawl. The mess, the dribble, the concentration on her face brought such a powerful memory of a time in our life that is gone in all ways except for these photographs.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I agree. My photos may not be showing life changing moments but they are no less documentary than any other. They may just show a robin on a twig but for me that is a memory of the place we were, the time, the weather, the sound of him singing, a picnic in February, half term holidays, a day with my husband and children – I could go on. I’m sure any of us could about our own photographs. What my photos speak to you I cannot say but for me they speak volumes and so I will keep talking in pictures and being incredibly grateful for anyone who takes a moment to enjoy them too.

Julia x

hello Mr Robin | humphrey & grace