IN­TRO­DUC­ING NA­TURE PHOTOGRAPHY SO­CI­ETY OF NZ

D-Photo spoke with two well-es­tab­lished mem­bers of Christchurch’s Na­ture Photography So­ci­ety of NZ — Pam Cum­ming and Pol Syrett — about their love for photography, and how be­ing in­volved with the club has helped their photography blos­som

New Zealand D-Photo - - CONTENTS -

D-Photo spoke with two well-es­tab­lished mem­bers of Christchurch’s Na­ture Photography So­ci­ety of NZ — Pam Cum­ming and Pol Syrett

Pam Cum­ming

D-Photo: What in­spired your in­ter­est in photography and made you pick up your first cam­era?

Pam Cum­ming: As chil­dren, it was al­ways ex­cit­ing to go through a box of old pho­tos at our grand­par­ents’ and learn about their fam­ily, and what they did in their day. I had a grand­fa­ther and a brother who were very in­ter­ested in photography, and de­vel­oped and printed their own im­ages, and I guess my in­ter­est in photography grew from that. I have no idea what my first cam­era was, or the ones fol­low­ing that in my younger years. I have been a Canon user for many years now, but have worked with many for­mats and brands.

Are you self-taught or have you been in­volved in photography cour­ses?

My first job was in ra­di­og­ra­phy, and I en­joyed de­vel­op­ing the X-rays. From there, I worked for pho­tog­ra­phers as a dark­room tech­ni­cian and a photo fin­isher, so I would have picked up a lot about photography there. I trained as a foren­sic pho­tog­ra­pher, which was a five-year train­ing pe­riod. I have also at­tended work­shops and cour­ses over the years, and a spe­cial one was with Free­man Pat­ter­son in South Africa.

Who are the pho­tog­ra­phers that you draw in­spi­ra­tion from?

Ini­tially Sally Ma­son, Free­man Pat­ter­son, and An­dre Gal­lant — but there are many more that I ad­mire now.

How do you keep your­self mo­ti­vated to keep shoot­ing?

My par­tic­i­pa­tion in cam­era clubs, mix­ing with pho­tog­ra­phers and lis­ten­ing to speak­ers, and of course, so­cial me­dia, add to the mo­ti­va­tion. I did take a pho­to­graph a day con­tin­u­ously for a two-year pe­riod — with a web­site called Blip — and us­ing the cam­era ev­ery day and look­ing at other works gave plenty of in­spi­ra­tion and mo­ti­va­tion. Of course, you are al­ways af­ter that ‘spe­cial shot’ that is very elu­sive, so you are al­ways try­ing to im­prove. It is a bit like the fish­er­man with the one that got away.

Is photography your day job, or do you fit it into your spare time around your 9–5 job?

Af­ter hav­ing been in the po­lice for 12 years I had an op­por­tu­nity to train as a foren­sic pho­tog­ra­pher, and I worked in this area for 21 years. I didn’t pick up a cam­era very much out­side work, other than to record fam­ily and events. I joined cam­era clubs about three years be­fore I re­tired, and have been hooked ever since, tak­ing pho­to­graphs for ‘me’.

How did you be­come in­volved with the club, and how long have you been a mem­ber?

I heard about the won­der­ful field trips, and week­end trips away, so joined up. I have been a mem­ber for about 17 years. I have served on the com­mit­tee and, at present, I am on the Hon­ours Board.

What are the skills and ben­e­fits you have gained from be­ing a part of the club?

I have learned a heap more about the nat­u­ral world, been taken to places that are in­ter­est­ing, and de­vel­oped a love of the bush and find­ing the jew­els of the for­est: fungi. Speak­ers who are in­vited to the club are very in­ter­est­ing, and there is va­ri­ety in their photography. You al­ways pick up some­thing.

Would you ad­vise other pho­tog­ra­phers to be­come a mem­ber of a club? If so, why?

[It’s great for] com­pan­ion­ship, and a place to dis­cuss and de­bate the world of photography. Be­ing with like-minded peo­ple, [it’s also] a great place to have your work cri­tiqued and, of course, an op­por­tu­nity to show your work.

Are there com­pe­ti­tions and pro­grammes that the club of­fers that you par­tic­i­pate in? How do they work?

Na­ture Photography So­ci­ety of NZ is a non-com­pet­i­tive club. The only com­pe­ti­tion is the Trenna Packer Salver, which is for all clubs through­out New Zealand, and im­ages must be of na­ture from New Zealand and its out­ly­ing is­lands. Six im­ages are sub­mit­ted from each com­pet­ing club. You can also sit for your Hon­ours, which can give you more cre­dence in the photography world. There are small work­shops held now and again.

How do you show­case your im­ages to an au­di­ence? Do you make use of var­i­ous forms of so­cial me­dia? If so, do you en­joy us­ing them?

I am not so good at show­cas­ing my im­ages, but oc­ca­sion­ally I show a few at the club, [or] I en­ter the odd com­pe­ti­tion through Pho­to­graphic So­ci­ety of New Zealand and Christchurch Pho­to­graphic So­ci­ety. I do have a Flickr site, but don’t keep it up to date! I also have two pri­vate Face­book sites, where a small group of us put up im­ages to show what we are do­ing and have them cri­tiqued. I have made a book, and have had a few im­ages printed to can­vas, which were in an ex­hi­bi­tion. Na­ture Photography So­ci­ety of NZ, as a club, puts on an ex­hi­bi­tion ev­ery two years, and mem­bers are in­vited to sub­mit an image for this. We have had ex­hi­bi­tions in li­braries, Han­mer, and the last two ex­hi­bi­tions were in the Christchurch Mu­seum, with 44 im­ages all mat­ted and framed.

Pol Syrett

D-Photo: What in­spired your in­ter­est in photography, and made you pick up your first cam­era?

Pol Syrett: I took my first pho­to­graphs with my par­ents’ Box Brownie, but the first cam­era I ac­tu­ally owned was a Brownie 127. While ev­ery­one — my par­ents in­cluded — pho­tographed each other, their chil­dren, pets, and friends, from the very be­gin­ning I pre­ferred to pho­to­graph na­ture: plants, an­i­mals, and land­scapes. My mo­ti­va­tion, even as a child, was to cap­ture the mo­ment and pre­serve it for­ever.

Are you self-taught, or have you been in­volved in photography cour­ses?

I am mostly self taught. I pho­tographed badly for a long time, achiev­ing the odd suc­cess­ful image by sheer en­thu­si­asm and luck rather than through any learned skills. Since I joined Na­ture Photography So­ci­ety of NZ, I have been on a num­ber of short cour­ses, [in­clud­ing ones] with Tony Bridge, Free­man Pat­ter­son, Sally Ma­son, Dave Wethey, John Cos­grove, and Mike Lang­ford. I’ve also learned a lit­tle from tu­tors at Pho­to­graphic So­ci­ety of New Zealand con­ven­tions. I went on a storm-chas­ing pho­to­graphic tour in the mid-western USA, where I learned some im­por­tant lessons (es­pe­cially how to see an image), from a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher who was a mem­ber of the group. Over the years, fel­low mem­bers of Na­ture Photography So­ci­ety of NZ have also helped me de­velop my photography.

Who are the pho­tog­ra­phers that you draw in­spi­ra­tion from?

I was first in­spired by Galen Row­ell’s writ­ings and im­ages, en­joy­ing the way he com­bined climb­ing ad­ven­tures with photography. I ap­pre­ci­ated his un­der­stand­ing and use of the physics of light, and his im­pro­vi­sa­tions, such as mak­ing use of a rock or a tree when he didn’t carry a tri­pod. I also ac­cepted his en­thu­si­as­tic chal­lenge to un-set the sun­set by run­ning up­hill! Other pho­tog­ra­phers I en­joy es­pe­cially are Frans Lant­ing, David Muench and, of course, Ansel Adams. It is no co­in­ci­dence that all th­ese pho­tog­ra­phers are from the western USA, which en­com­passes my favourite nat­u­ral ar­eas in the world.

How do you keep your­self mo­ti­vated to keep shoot­ing?

Club field trips and per­sonal trips away al­ways in­spire me to take pho­to­graphs, and at home there are lots of in­ter­est­ing sub­jects await­ing my at­ten­tion, es­pe­cially in our gar­den and along the ad­ja­cent Port Hills. My big­gest prob­lem is tak­ing the time to cre­ate a re­ally good image, rather than be­ing sat­is­fied with the grab shot that is so much eas­ier to do.

Is photography your day job, or do you fit it into your spare time around your 9–5 job?

I am for­tu­nate to be re­tired from my day job, but as I do have lots of other in­ter­ests, photography doesn’t al­ways get the fo­cus it de­serves.

How did you be­come in­volved with the club, and how long have you been a mem­ber?

I have been a mem­ber of Na­ture Photography So­ci­ety of NZ since 2005, when I saw a flyer in Photo and Video — our lo­cal pho­to­graphic store — and thought that a na­ture photography so­ci­ety would be a great place to meet like-minded peo­ple, and to im­prove my photography. I have been on the man­age­ment com­mit­tee for most of that time, and done two stints as pres­i­dent.

What are the skills and ben­e­fits you have re­ceived from be­ing a part of the club?

Na­ture Photography So­ci­ety of NZ is the first club of any kind that I’ve joined in which I feel at home, and able to fully par­tic­i­pate. Al­though I had tried to join var­i­ous groups for dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties pre­vi­ously, be­cause I was still work­ing, I was un­able to de­vote suf­fi­cient time, and I never found any­where that I re­ally fit­ted in. I have made friends here, have found peo­ple to go pho­tograph­ing with, and learned heaps. The only lim­i­ta­tion is my own lack of de­ter­mi­na­tion to prac­tice new skills, as I tend to stick to my old bad habits!

Would you ad­vise other pho­tog­ra­phers to be­come a mem­ber of a club. If so, why?

Clubs of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties to make friends, to learn from other peo­ple, and ap­ply one’s own skills for the ben­e­fit of oth­ers. Get­ting to­gether over a cof­fee af­ter a field trip is a great way to share ideas.

Are there com­pe­ti­tions and pro­grammes that the club of­fers that you par­tic­i­pate in? How do they work?

[Since] Na­ture Photography So­ci­ety of NZ is not a com­pet­i­tive club, ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude a monthly meet­ing that fea­tures a vis­it­ing guest speaker, a show of mem­bers’ im­ages, and an op­por­tu­nity for catch­ing up over sup­per. Field trips are very im­por­tant too, both day and week­end trips, with the oc­ca­sional longer trip fur­ther afield. We are for­tu­nate to have some great trip lead­ers who are will­ing to share their favourite

places with the rest of us. Last year, our trips in­cluded vis­its to Arthur’s Pass, St Ar­naud, Kaik­oura, Karamea, Lake Brun­ner, Gore Bay, Cass, Lake Co­leridge, Hinewai Re­serve, the north­ern bays of Banks Penin­sula, Mo­tu­ara Is­land and, around Christchurch, the Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, Heath­cote salt marshes, Edmunds Gar­den, Woodham Park, and Orana Wildlife Park — I didn’t get to go on all of them! We do hold a ‘ fun’ com­pe­ti­tion in con­junc­tion with our Christ­mas party in De­cem­ber, for which prizes awarded across var­i­ous odd cat­e­gories in­clude choco­late fish or choco­late san­tas. Ev­ery other year we put on a themed pub­lic ex­hi­bi­tion to show­case some of our mem­bers’ best work.

How do you show­case your im­ages to an au­di­ence? Do you make use of var­i­ous forms of so­cial me­dia? If so, do you en­joy us­ing th­ese plat­forms?

Apart from show­ing a few im­ages at Na­ture Photography So­ci­ety of NZ’s monthly meet­ings, and en­ter­ing im­ages for our ex­hi­bi­tions, I do post on Flickr, Blip­foto, and 500px. I don’t take this too se­ri­ously, but I do find feed­back from fel­low pho­tog­ra­phers view­ing th­ese im­ages help­ful. For [our club’s] field trip im­ages, we have a Flickr group, which is great for check­ing to see how other peo­ple recorded the trip. I use Blip­foto mostly to help mo­ti­vate me to pho­to­graph reg­u­larly. Ini­tially, I posted ev­ery day, and set my­self chal­lenges (like us­ing a tri­pod ev­ery day for a month), but now I use it just when I feel I need a lit­tle ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion and some feed­back. My next chal­lenge is to progress be­yond show­ing pro­jected im­ages to dis­play­ing prints, with the aim of hav­ing (even­tu­ally!), more con­trol over the fi­nal prod­uct. This is a steep learn­ing curve for me, but one I am keen to climb.

Pam Cum­ming

Pam Cum­ming

Pam Cum­ming

Pam Cum­ming

Pol Syrett

Pol Syrett

Pol Syrett

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.