We’ve focused quite heavily on our Tours as part of this monthly article series – and quite exotic ones at that most recently! So this time we thought we’d switch to the other end of the spectrum and chat to Gill Taylor, one of our guests who joined us last week for the Lordington Lavender one day workshop. This was led by Charlie Waite and also by the highly respected flower photographer Sue Bishop. All images copyright Gill Taylor. You can see her full Gallery from the day at http://www.gilltaylorphotography.com/lavender-and-flowers
Was this your first tour or workshop with L&L? Or if not, then can you tell us how many have you done before, and which destinations?
This was actually my third trip with Light & Land, having done one tour and one workshop previously. I did a day at Stowe Landscape Gardens with Charlie in 2013 and then a three night tour to Cornwall led by Carla Regler earlier this year. I’m now just deciding which tour to book next - it gets quite addictive the more you do!
How did you first hear about L&L?
It was a while ago now, but I think it was in in the ‘Photography Holidays and Courses’ booklet in Outdoor Photography Magazine. My sister and I were looking for a photography holiday or workshop back in 2013, to help us further our skills, and having found out about Light & land we did some further research and discovered how well-respected the company is, so it was an obvious choice after that. We’ve certainly not been disappointed!
Why did you choose the Lordington Lavender workshop specifically?
I went Jersey a few years ago and we photographed the lavender fields there, but I wasn’t as experienced as a photographer then. So while I was pleased with the images I got at the time, I felt there was lots more I could have achieved, so wanted a chance to try again, with other skills I’ve gained since, and with expert tuition on hand! I also particularly wanted to meet Sue Bishop and to find out more about how she creates her stunning flower images, so that was a key factor as well.
What level would you say you were as a photographer?
I’d class myself as intermediate I think. I’ve been taking pictures since I was seven, but have only really started to take it seriously in the last couple of years – upgrading from a bridge camera to a Compact System Camera (mirrorless) and learning the basics of Photoshop. I’ve recently started selling a few images on Alamy, which is going well, if slowly - and I’ve also taken the plunge and will be exhibiting at Light & Land on the Mall in August!
What were you hoping to achieve from a Light & Land tour in terms of progressing your photography skills?
I think a key area from this trip was the macro element in the flower photography. I don’t have a macro lens yet but I’ve been using a Raynox dmc-150 macro converter on my zoom lens and getting some good results, so I wanted to learn more about how I could use that to even better effect. As well as any new tips I could pick up from Charlie on the landscape side of things as well. However much you learn, there is still always so much more to be gained from trips like this – not just from the leaders but also talking to other participants, who might have a different perspective on things.
What were your thoughts on the workshop, in terms of the split between time for photographs and teaching time?
I think it worked very well, as we spent the morning in a ‘classroom’ setting (in a skittle alley in the local pub, which was brilliant!) and then lunchtime and the afternoon at Lordington. The morning session was great as it really helped to set the scene of what we were about to do, and by the time we actually got to the lavender and wild flower fields I already had a whole set of things I wanted to try, based on the talks from Charlie and Sue in the morning.
Was the level of technical knowledge, enthusiasm and encouragement of tutors what you were hoping for?
Absolutely. Charlie is always hugely encouraging, and it was great to get some of his time again – and meeting Sue for the first time was a real inspiration. Her talk session, which she did with a set of slides to illustrate different aspects of her work, taught me so much in a relatively short space of time and totally changed the way I think about photographing flowers and nature in general. It went way beyond technical and composition, and also covered more artistic areas like colour palette and how to achieve more abstract effects – things I’d never even have thought of.
How did you feel about the level of one to one engagement with tutors?
Sue and Charlie were both brilliant during our afternoon session, regularly checking up on how we were doing and recommending different ideas and techniques that we could try. Even though we were quite a large group – 15 in total I think – they somehow seemed to manage to appear at regular intervals as we moved from lavender to wild flowers, and from landscapes to close-ups. I have no idea how they managed it, and at times I almost felt like I must be hogging all of Sue’s attention!
Was the tuition appropriate to your level?
Definitely. As soon as I mentioned my ideas for a shot and what I was trying to achieve, or asked questions - they quickly picked up on my knowledge levels and were able to respond in an appropriate way. Sue also made suggestions for new ideas we could try – for example trying different viewpoints, or using a reflector for flower close-ups. She brought one of these along and was happy to help out with holding it while we captured some amazing shots, demonstrating the difference that it made in each particular situation.
One last questions, if a friend or colleague asked you whether they should consider a Light & Land tour, what would you say to them?
Book one now! You’ll love it. Maybe start with a workshop or a shorter tour, to see if this type of learning environment is appropriate for you – but beware it’s thoroughly addictive! I’ve learned so much from all three Light & Land trips, and it makes you hungry for more – both in terms of different locations and also different tutors. I’ve been getting into street photography recently as well, so I’m hoping to do something city based next I think, so am really looking forward to that – and I’ve not even booked it yet!
Post By Charlie Waite