When I was 10, I was given a Kodak Instamatic loaded with black and white film. It had a slider for different weather conditions and a little square hole to look through. The shutter release was a flat, stainless-steel plate.
The only picture I remember taking with it was of a friend, Liz, in the back garden of the house where I lived with my mother and my father’s aunt. The house was in Orkney but it was named after a hill in Birkenhead; Liz was on my scooter, on the path outside the kitchen window. I haven’t seen that photograph for more than 30 years now but I can still picture it in my mind’s eye.
Since then, I’ve had many cameras and, slowly, I have got better at using them. I went to Glasgow University and got a degree in English and Film & Television Studies. Mostly, I have worked in the media, moving ever further away from the bits where I actually produced something.
Along the way, I have been paid (small sums of) money to take photographs and I have won the occasional prize in with pictures that Barthes would no doubt dismiss as relying upon “surprise” for their impact.
I began to realise that I wanted to do more than take a couple of good, unrelated pictures a year. Someone at work told me about the OCA. I signed up for The Art of Photography. And now, a year later, here I am…
The stuff above is what was sent by way of a calling card for me to Garry, my tutor for this, the second module of the OCA BA in photography. As the module is called Context and Narrative, I should add some more contextual stuff here, when I’m not limited to 250 words. Here goes:
I am white, middle-aged and male. I am heterosexual. I live in London. I am still economically active. While I could say that I am only separated by one generation from the working class, I am in truth irredeemably bourgeois. I enjoy cooking. I can pronounce “quinoa” correctly; apparently this means I can expect to live 67 months longer than someone who can’t. If I’m in Scotland – and I still am sometimes – people think I sound English. They always have. Politically, I am left of centre both by conviction and by inclination. It is nearly ten years since I stopped smoking and while I don’t miss it a bit, I do miss the youthful sense of invulnerability that led to me smoking in the first place. I own more of the property I live in than the building society does. If I had been together enough to realise that this time I had to register to get my union vote for the labour leadership, I truly don’t know whether I would have voted for Corbyn or Cooper. According to tests I did at work, I’m really quite introverted, but I hide it behind a brash facade. Most things I enjoy doing have putting things together as a major component. If I’m in England people think I sound Scottish. Enough? Enough.