by Andrew Gransden Published 01/02/2007
I became interested in photography at school over 50 years ago, buying myself a Zenith SLR and then an Olympus OM1. I have many thousands of colour slides, most of which I have never viewed. I Converted to digital in 2003 and upgraded to a Canon 300D before going to Falkland Islands and South Georgia with the RAF in 2004. Photography helped keep me sane over the 6 months, I was down south and it proved to be a truly lifechanging experience.
When I returned home, two years ago, I had an idea of eventually turning professional. Initially I took a Careers in Photography course in October 2005 with Len Bateman fswpp. He recommended joining the SWPP & BPPA, and I registered with the Mentor Me programme (included in my SWPP membership) at Focus on Imaging 2006, with an initial assessment from Martin Grahame-Dunne.
I went through a couple of critique sessions with Martin during the spring and summer. He encouraged me to look at the images outside the constraints of the 4:3 box, and this really opened my eyes and got me to take a different view on composition. I also attended several portrait and wedding photography seminars, on the basis that my love of wildlife photography would not pay the bills. My next step was to put together a collection of my wildlife photographs for a fine art exhibition at a local gallery in August 2006.
Encouraged by my progress I presented some portrait images to Martin at a Mentor Me lighting course in London in October 2006. However only a small number of these were up to the required standard. I then ask Graham to look at the fine art wildlife collection I had brought down with me. He went very quiet and finally said that I had gained my LBPPA and that half of the images were to associate standard. Wow! that was a real breakthrough for me.
Throughout 2006 I had entered a number of images into the appropriate categories in the Monthly Print Competition. I found the on-line competition inspirational, as I could judge my images against the best of the competition. In total, eight images made the grade (scoring more than 80) including five of my wildlife images. The icing on the cake was eventually winning Nature & Environmental Photographer of the Year 2006 with my South American Tern image.
I have another year of my plan to go, aiming to leave the RAF by this time next year and concentrate full-time on photography. I hope you find this is of use to encourage new and existing SWPP & BPPA members to make the most of the excellent Mentor Me and seminar programmes...their support and advice really helped me move up a few more steps on the professional ladder.
Andrew Gransden LBPPA
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