Photography in the Blood

January 27, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

In 1801, more than 50 years before Darwin published ‘Origin of Species’, Lamarck proposed his theory, ‘Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics’. This suggested that adaptive behaviours, beneficial to the success of an animal, could be passed on to offspring. This theory was condemned after the acceptance of Darwinism, although interestingly it has recently resurfaced in the shape of epigenetics.  Given my ancestry, it feels inevitable that I would somehow end up pursuing photography in some way, though I doubt that it has a survival benefit!

Charles Reynolds Hadden

My maternal great-grandfather was an amateur photographer in a small town called Port Byron, in upstate New York at the end of 19th century. While visiting my grandparents during my gap year (over 40 years ago), I was instructed to take whatever I wanted from the various papers and photos in a family archive. I wish I could have taken the lot, but since I was flying back to the UK, it wasn’t practical. I do have a good collection of fascinating photographs, mostly of friends and family in the local town, some of people at work, and some further afield from day trips to Lake Cayuga, and even one or two of NY city and Washington DC. There are some photos of him; one I particularly like with his box camera slung over his shoulder, taken in a photography studio in Bleecker Street, Manhattan. Thank goodness we don’t have to carry equipment like that around any more!

Charles Reynolds Hadden, amateur photographerAmateur photographer Charles Reynolds Hadden from Port Byron, NY, with his box camera, taken by L Noll Photographer, 232 Bleecker Street, New York state, USA, at end of 19th century J

My father, Chuck Anderson, has always been a keen photographer. While doing his US Army service in the 1950s, he was a US Army Signal Corps photographer. The camera in the photo is an Army standard issue Speed Graphic, which used 4x5 inch negatives, and involved pulling the slide out of the plates before exposing each shot. In a career in advertising, such visual skills are clearly important and, in retirement he has focussed on video/movie production about his and his wife’s worldwide travels. You can see these at Random Thoughts Ltd.

Chuck AndersonChuck Anderson, US Army Signal Corps photographer, with a standard issue Speed Graphic, which used 4x5 inch negatives

My photographic history

My father was so proud of my early artistic skills, that he plastered the dining room wall with my abstract pictures. Although I have never thought of myself as being particularly artistic or creative, I have always taken photographs, even in my teenage years. After 8 impecunious years as a student, I spent some of my first salary on two things: a leather jacket (which I still have) and a SLR Camera. It was a Pentax. I even bought a wide angle lens and a tripod for it. However, I never had the time to get to grips with anything other than automatic function.

My early artistic skillsSally Anderson, about 5 years old.

Then the digital age arrived and a compact camera seemed the easiest choice. I mostly took the usual holiday snaps and photos of my children. Then an iPhone 4S (which I still have though its battery is on its last legs) took better photos, so I started using it on our worldwide adventures, and making movies with iMovie. You can see these on my You Tube channel hereHow I regret not having a proper camera and learning how to use it before now, as I have travelled widely to places such as Botswana, Thailand, Borneo, Vietnam, Venezuela, Peru, Maldives, Cuba and Barbados, as well as around Europe.

It wasn’t until I retired from the NHS that I had the time and opportunity to immerse myself in photography. My husband bought me a lightweight mirrorless Panasonic LUMIX G7 camera, and I have quickly accumulated a lot of accessories and lenses (making my backpack not as lightweight as it should be). I went on photography workshops and courses. I bought Lightroom and watched countless You Tube videos to train myself to use its full capabilities. I started entering photography competitions and joined a camera club. I became a stock photographer and have had fun seeing which images sell, and which appear in national newspapers.

What kind of photography?

I don’t think I had appreciated how many different genres of photography there are. My natural inclination leans me towards landscape and wildlife photography.  I am fascinated by wildlife photography, though I probably don’t have the perseverance required to stay in a hide for hours on end to get a photo. I also enjoy being out in the countryside and the opportunities in Scotland, of course, for wonderful landscape photos are boundless. 

I tended to avoid photographing people when I first started. Stock photography has taught me that people can often make a photo better (and more likely to sell). A short course in portrait photography will tempt me to experiment with this genre. I have also tried my hand at some still life studio photos, and this has contributed to my stock portfolio.

What next?

That’s where I have got to so far. There is still plenty to learn. I am excited by the endless possibilities of photography and the never ending challenge of learning more.  I am going to keep an open mind about where photography will take me over the next few years. 

 

Stock photography by Sally Anderson at Alamy

 

 



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