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A Photographers Journey

Old Lifeboat House, Wick

Just over 3 years ago I had cause to notice how I was simply taking happy snaps with a point and shoot camera. Deciding I wanted to learn to produce better and more appealing photographs of which I could be proud, I purchased a Canon Bridge Camera. Determined to learn about my camera as well as photography, I joined a local camera club.

I stuck with it for a few months, however it was clear that the energy and passion I like to bring to any project was lacking. I had met through the club, a couple of photographers who were keen to participate in photo shoots. We teamed up and I felt at last I was able to improve my skills with encouragement from these two more experienced photographers.

Loch Ness

It was fun planning trips out and the anticipation of possible photo opportunities was palpable. A new world started to open up and I began to discover locations I never knew existed both on my own and with my companions.

My confidence grew as I took more photos and learnt how to edit them. I opened a Flickr account and joined a few groups so I could learn more of what was possible with my particular camera as well as compare my efforts. My learning curve was steep, however I felt I was progressing rapidly; the more I learnt, the more involved I became.

I became much more aware of my environment. I embraced the elements thinking in terms of more photo opportunities. Small details caught my eye and I started looking for different angles.

Although I knew I was improving my skills generally, I felt at times like a rudderless boat. I had no idea to where I was heading in terms of photographic preferences. The options seemed endless and I wanted to have a go at everything photo related. Such an exciting new world was opening up for me.

In the woods with the globe

I decided to challenge myself to take a photo a day. My idea was not simply to take a photo; I wanted to be clear in my mind what had caught my attention and why. I also hoped I would learn more about my personal preferences en route.

I had often written to one of my photographer friends recounting how I had captured a particular image, which more often than not involved a humorous situation. It was suggested that I incorporate such anecdotes into a blog together with my choice of photo. To combine my love of writing with a developing passion for photography seemed a great idea and so my personal blog came into being on 1st January 2014.

In 2013 I satisfied a long held desire to visit the north east tip of Scotland. I was with two non photographer friends who indulged my growing passion. They commented later that their experience had been enhanced by being my “spotters” and seeing the resulting photos. One of them asked if I had really been in the same location when they saw my photos taken at different angles from where they’d been looking. Proof for me that I was developing an eye for photographs; their eyes began to open wider too! The only element which would have made that trip complete was to experience the Aurora Borealis.

Geyser, Iceland

Thoughts inevitably turned to Iceland and at the end of February 2104, my brother and I together with one of my photography friends found ourselves en route to a photographic adventure. I can only say that the experience was absolutely amazing; it was like nowhere else I had ventured before. To watch the Aurora Borealis dancing in the skies above us was breathtaking. The photographic opportunities were endless and we made the most of those that presented themselves. We will return that’s for certain.

Throughout 2014 I continued to write my blog and upload a photo a day. I sensed a change in direction with my work as the year progressed. My passion for this absorbing hobby deepened. I found a sense of tranquility and peace when surveying my surrounds. There is something of interest to be photographed in any situation and a relaxed mind is open to more opportunities, a fact brought home to me a while ago. A power cut in the night meant no electric kettle to boil water for a cup of tea. Out came the alternative which sat on the gas hob and as I waited for the water to boil, an image of the kettle and its shadow presented itself. It turned out to be the last one of the year for my blog and so apt.

On The Glacier - Iceland

My journey this year is taking a different format in that I’m not restricting myself to one photograph a day. I have my camera with me at all times and feel something is missing if I happen to leave it somewhere, if only briefly. As such, I don’t go many days without wanting to photograph something.

I am basically a self taught photographer and was interested when my brother pointed out a photography course offered by The Image Academy. My brother, who is no mean photographer himself, lives in a different country from me and the course provided an opportunity to participate in a photographic activity together. It also gave me the chance to measure what I had learnt against a structured course.

I am just about to embark on my personalised assignment from The Image Academy in Monochrome which will give me the opportunity to explore in depth, this area of photography which has always appealed to me.

Meanwhile, my adventures close to home continue with an upcoming night shoot. I have also acquired a globe and love the new perspectives I find with it in familiar places.

Later in the year trips in the UK, Italy and America are already organised and eagerly anticipated. Let the journey continue……..!

June McNeil is an Image Academy Student and has enrolled in our online photography courses.

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