The evening of 18 January 2019 saw a “first” for me, my first Academy Evening! An extremely cold evening was more than offset by the warmth of the welcome awaiting me at Chester’s Crowne Plaza hotel where over 25 attended. First things first though, an appeal was made to support the Welshot charities by making donations of non-perishable foods, and I was astounded at the size of the box of goodies donated. In this day and age it is a crying shame that this sort of assistance is needed, but so rewarding to see that a simple request for help is rewarded so fully. Well done Welshot and I hope that Micah Liverpool can put the foodstuffs to good use.
The evening was entitled, “Personal Projects – Get Inspired”, and what better topic to draw individuals away from a cosy evening in, in front of the TV. I don’t know about others, but I do get into a rut photographically speaking, and I was hoping to come away from the evening with fire in my belly and a renewed enthusiasm for getting behind the lens. More specifically, I was hoping to pick up some pointers to direct my attention rather than the directionless approach that has maybe been meanderings over the last year or so.
I was not disappointed, three presentations, with very different themes were the core of the evening, supplemented by chilli, rice and chips, which actually turned out to be cottage pie, vegetables and chips – nonetheless delicious!
Our first presentation was from Helen Iles, described as “mountaineer and guide” but clearly so much more. Some stunning mountain images were displayed and the messages that I took away were that having a project to work towards helps direct your activity; do not underestimate the importance of light in the landscape; and maybe more important (for me at least) desaturation of colour in images can be a powerful technique, one I plan to use very soon.
Mark Carline followed supper with a fascinating insight into how work and photography can work together closely as well as the fact that a commercial approach does not always require money to change hands! In fact, it seems that there are often greater rewards and opportunities to build photographically when money does NOT change hands. A range of images and projects around Chester and the North-West based upon theatre, music and heritage were shown giving us much food for thought.
Finally, we were treated to a well-illustrated presentation from Derek Buick with some great insight into the art and techniques of street photography, a genre that I really enjoy but pursue with a degree of trepidation at times. Street or candid? A question I have never really considered but has now given food for thought. Ask permission first, or grab the shot; something that was discussed at some length, and clearly will make a big difference to the shot taken. How to use images and permissions required were also some of the questions asked and discussed.
All in all I can say I came away from the evening with an inkling of a plan in mind, one which I hope will develop more fully and direct me in coming weeks and months. My first Academy Evening will not be my last that is for sure!
A big thank you to Lee and Eifion for the organisation as always, apart from the entertainment with the lights (Eifion) and the ensuing advice on what switches to touch, or not, (Lee), everything ran smoothly and to time. Also, thanks have to go to our three presenters, Helen, Mark and Derek; particularly Helen who had a long drive back to Barmouth. I hope to be able to join future events where their particular skills and knowledge can take mine to higher levels.