In this week's member interview with Photocrowd members Sarah Wyld talks about the discipline of the darkroom, the frustrations of going digital and photographing Bob Dylan.
Here we ask Sarah some questions about her photography history, habits and inspirations.
How did you get into photography?
In the 70s I was at art school doing painting, which I was pretty rubbish at. And it was after I left the art school that I found my love of photography. I created my own darkroom at home and learnt most of the stuff by trial and much error (I still do). But I loved the magic of the darkroom, and, being very scatty, I benefited from the discipline.
I had more faith in my photographs than I did in my paintings. I also wanted to put photography to some use, so I became a founding member of the Wandsworth Photo Co-op, which grew into Brixton’s Photofusion.
For years I worked on projects in South East London, engaging the community in photography, running workshops etc. A particular interest of mine has been working with people with learning difficulties, physical disabilities and mental health problems.
How often and when do you take photographs?
I have my camera with me most of the time, for those hidden quirky quiet moments, not necessarily for obvious ‘occasions’. I don’t feel I have to photograph every event that happens.
What is your technical set-up?
Currently I have a Canon EOS 450D with its 18-55mm kit lens. I also have a Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II and a Canon EF 75-300mm, as well as a Manfrotto tripod.
I use Photoshop Elements 10, and I usually print my own photographs on Epson Stylus Photo R3000, with which I have a love/hate relationship. Having always printed my own black & white in the past, I can’t imagine surrendering the everyday control of my printing, even though I’m not very tech savvy and have wasted plenty of paper and ink over the years.
Going digital was a massive, sometimes very frustrating, learning curve, but now I am really enjoying it. Although I do slightly regret giving away all my pre-digital equipment, including a Mamiya medium-format camera.
Among your works, which one is your favourite? Why?
I couldn’t really say which is my favourite, but I love the one of Libby on Samothrace island, which was voted into the Top 10 by Photocrowd members in Show your Best Portraits and was commended by the Expert (thanks, folks!). I also like the one of Joyce that won the competition. I love my skateboarders from the 1970s, and I love my autumn leaves. And I like these ones of mine in this blog post.
I photographed Bob Dylan at his request and I treasure that one for obvious reasons, although it’s not a great pic.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
I try to always have my camera with me and to really look around me. I look at the work of others, not least on Photocrowd. I find Internet blogs and tutorials very handy indeed, especially on post-processing. I’m not good in a classroom with others - unless I’m teaching - I get distracted and rebellious.
What do you get out of being a photographer?
Being a photographer keeps me anchored. It helps me keep a grasp on life’s precarious thrills: people, animals, birds, art, theatre, sport, music – everything. I like finding the quirky and unusual in everyday - and not so everyday - life. Photography is very absorbing and it is hard to be bored by it.
Whose work has influenced you most?
All sorts. I like the humour of Elliott Erwitt. I like Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moments and Hockney’s experiments with photography and join-ups. I like Dorothea Lange and Don McCullin for getting out there and showing ghastly truths. And I admire and aspire to the single-mindedness, tenacity and commitment of my friend, the artist Libby Raynham.
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