I remember getting my first camera when I was ten years old and some of my most vivid childhood memories relate to certain pictures that I took back then. I still recall the extraordinary sense of anticipation when that yellow plastic box of Kodachrome slides arrived in the post. How times have changed.
I had not been a regular photographer for many years when a friend introduced me to Blipfoto on May 1st, 2011. I’d begun to post a few photographs on a blog and she thought the site might interest me. I put up a shot I had taken earlier that day, and another the next, and then … well, the rest is history and can be viewed in my daily journal. No day has passed since without the shutter of my camera getting pressed at least a few times, and usually very many. Many years on, I still value and enjoy the discipline of curating my photography to select just one image to represent each day of my life.
My Blipfoto journal stands as a record of a journey of discovery. Barely a single person appeared in my first year. Almost all my photographs were landscapes. Now, people appear in the great majority of my pictures. I remain passionate about landscape photography and still love to find a good composition while I’m out walking or cycling, but I now apply my eye to the urban landscape. I’ve become just as passionate about street photography—in all its forms. You never know what’s going to happen or who you are going to meet. The unpredictability of it all makes it highly addictive. Finding out what’s on my memory card gives me the same buzz that I once got from opening that box of transparencies.
I describe myself as an opportunistic photographer. I rarely, if ever, set out to take specific pictures. My photographs are delivered in the course of going about my everyday life. I’m always waiting to be surprised. I almost exclusively use a compact, which is always to hand, wherever I am, whatever I happen to be doing. It means that no opportunity is ever missed. I would like my photography to be thought of as a celebration of the extraordinary that is to be seen everywhere in the ordinariness of life. Extraordinary sights. Extraordinary people. Every single day.
In April of 2013, I started a second daily Blipfoto journal to record just the street portraits that I was then beginning to take on an irregular basis. I initially called it “A Thousand Faces”, expecting the collection of a thousand portraits to take very many years. Although I had no intention of posting every single day, it soon became a daily practice and I’d reached the target in less than three years. It seemed like no time at all. There was no reason to stop so the journal was renamed “Face By Face”. As of this moment, I’ve not missed a day since I began, despite periods of illness and serious injury. I get to meet a wonderful new person every single day!
The desire to publish a daily photograph has encouraged me to be bold in taking candid pictures, and also in approaching people on the street for portraits. My favourite shots are those that are telling or suggesting a story. I’m not so much interested in the technical excellence of a photograph but rather its feeling. It’s all about the emotional response. The greatest satisfaction in my photography is to feel something out in the world and then be able to capture that feeling in such a way that other people are able to experience it too. That’s the ultimate measure of a successful photograph.
If I have any insight to offer from my experience it is that photography is not about fancy equipment but simply about seeing. I’ve not so much learned about photography through my experience but learned how to see. You just need to get out into the world and practice. There is something extraordinary to be found in every ordinary day. If you look.