A Long Courtship – Finally joined as an Academy Member

A long courtship.

I’ve a long courtship with Welshot. I first stumbled across the society following up on some images of Kris Williams which were and remain an inspiration. So much so that the first evening I attended as a visitor was Kris talking through his work, and although Picasso was talking about painting when he said “There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.” I think Kris’ work demonstrates this in digital photography. BTW, I have a degree in art and started out as an art teacher then teacher trainer and then education adviser / inspector before ending up where I am now commissioning school extensions and rebuilds for Stockport Council. More arty quotes to come!

Then I bought a ticket to participate in the longest day photoshoot in and around Anglesey and Snowdonia in 2016. An epic day, and although we were not blessed with either a spectacular sunrise or sunset I got some GREAT shots and had a lovely time with some excellent company, such as the indefatigably upbeat Sarah Rushton. The day is also memorable for my wearing totally inappropriate footwear as I thought we would be driving between locations…. the average of the various pedometer readings suggested 13 miles. When I got home I weighed my bag and tripod: one stone. The next day I couldn’t walk properly and discovered that the soles of my feet had swollen…!!

Welshot Photographic Academy - Longest Day on Anglesey

Welshot Photographic Academy - Longest Day on Anglesey

Still I didn’t join. I looked at the courses, thought about it some more. I think fundamentally I enjoy photography as ‘me’ time, where I can be alone with my thoughts and concentrate on what I’m doing with a camera. I’ve achieved a couple of things I wanted to do, such as the cover of Cheshire Life magazine (Jan ’16, hey – thanks for asking!) Then a couple of things happened..

I work for a council and all councils are desperate to save money. There is a real chance that I shall be looking for a short second career in a few years’ time and I would wish to return to my artistic roots via photography. So training up in a wider variety of genres would be a good thing. I also read Jeff Goins’ “Real Artists Don’t Starve” which is about how to creatively thrive in our current age. The big message is that the starving artist in that garret who never sees or speaks to anyone (before dying of consumption or laudanum overdose!) has been consigned to 19th century Romanticist  history. Modern creatives collaborate, communicate, share their knowledge and join in creative endeavours.

Welshot Photographic Academy - Longest Day on Anglesey

Welshot Photographic Academy - Longest Day on Anglesey

I reflected again on Picasso and in particular his early cubist works in which he had a partner and friend / creative rival in the form of fellow painter Braque. The critic Apollinaire at the time likened them to two mountaineers roped together as they ascended this artistic journey with each in turn taking the lead. They collaborated in discussing what they were seeking to do and inspiring each other to push their experimental art forward. Was it time for me to seek like minded company to hone my skills with and find fresh challenges to tackle?

Welshot Photographic Academy - Longest Day on Anglesey

With that in mind when my lovely wife asked what would I want for my 2017 xmas present I suggested a Welshot course or two. On the first of these I was thrown into the unfamiliar territory of directing a model. Welshot is a family show so I’ll not draw attention to the similarity of first fumbling and this event but at least one of us was experienced, thank goodness. Before the second of the courses I did some maths which isn’t something I do often as I long ago realised that if I have any intelligence its visual… love that Shakespeare quote “I would challenge you to a duel of wits but I see you are unarmed” (!) anyway I realised that if I wanted to do the next course at £180 then joining for £160 and getting that course and others at a reduced rate would make sense.

How to Shoot with Gels - Welshot Photographic Academy Evening

So I finally saw sense and joined. I’ve enjoyed my first evening course as a member – shooting with coloured gels – and wrote a blog on it. The overnight adventure of a shoot around North Wales awaits me, and I’m looking for other events to try new stuff in. I’m hoping that Welshot can do the car shoot again as I’ve never done that (hint!). I have to balance full-time work with precious time with my 6 year old and lovely wife but my target is an event a month as a training schedule for myself. As Neil Barringham puts it “The grass is greener where you water it.”

I look to Welshot to water and nurture my skills. The adventure has started!

Stephen Ellis Bell

2 thoughts on “A Long Courtship – Finally joined as an Academy Member

  1. Sarah Rushton says:

    I hope to see you again at another event soon Stephen – and I’ve enjoyed seeing your photographs in between the two events we’ve already met at in the meantime!

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