What first drew you to photography?
That’s a difficult one to answer. My Dad was a keen family snapper who did his own developing and printing, and I still have some of his 120 black and white contact prints from the 50s. My husband taught me the technical essentials of aperture and shutter speed, depth of field etc. after we first met. But I think what first alerted me to the possibilities of film was seeing copies of the National Geographic about at home when I was 13 or 14 – I was always eager to get my hands on it and see the glorious colour images, as well as to read the text. Funnily enough, it never drove me to travel though – 90% of my images are taken within a mile or two of home, and there is so much to see in Devon, let alone England or Britain, that I wouldn’t miss my passport!
Lois Wakeman - Surf's Up
What is your favourite photographic memory, and why?
Probably seeing the latent image develop in the darkroom for the first time: the slow discovery of what had dimly been seen in the negative. Although I shoot exclusively in digital now, nothing can match the magic of seeing if what was pre-visualised had worked!
Who is your favourite photographer, and why?
If I had to choose just one, I think it would be Leeming Paterson – I cheated as that’s really two people. Ted Leeming and Morag Paterson not only live in Scotland – which has numerous photographic opportunities for the landscape fanatic – but they have also done a lot to bring the impressionistic possibilities of intentional camera movement (ICM) to the notice of the public. As a keen exponent of ICM myself, I have to thank them for that, and would love one day to attend one of their workshops. Their impressionistic work is all about capturing the feeling of being there, rather than a documentary record of the place.
Lois Wakeman - Walking the Dog
What would be your ideal camera, and where would you take it?
Something small enough to carry comfortably up hill and down dale, but with sufficient optical and sensor quality to allow reasonable sized prints, and probably interchangeable lenses. One of the new breed of micro four-thirds cameras now available would probably fit the bill perfectly. In the mean time, I still get great pleasure from my aging Nikon D80, which has the big advantage that I can still use all the lenses that were bought with Nikon film cameras all those years ago.
Where to take it? Everywhere I go in case I miss a good shot – like the time I parked in Lyme a few weeks ago to go to the bank and saw a fabulous rainbow in front of Stonebarrow one afternoon, and wished I had a camera to catch the moment!
Lois Wakeman - It's not easy,being green
Tell us what you enjoy most about your own work, and what has inspired you recently.
Being outside and enjoying the natural world is a big part of the enjoyment, and the other is the moment when I open an image on screen and say “Ah – that was what I meant to capture”. I know it’s not very original, but the fine show of Autumn colour this year has given me a lot of inspiration to try more ICM photos in Furzehill Woods, just down the road from where I live.
Do you have bursts of creativity – and when/where are you most creative?
Yes – like most people, I have up and down days, often linked to the weather and seasons. A sudden turn in the weather, or the opportunity to spend a day out with the camera, can often be the spur to try something different, or to revisit old haunts for a new take on a familiar subject. I’m hoping to do some photo days out with friends next year, as having someone else to spark ideas off is always a spur to trying new things, in whatever medium.
Lois Wakeman - Yellow Peril
What are the most important elements of a successful photo?
The standard answer is technical excellence combined with a strong composition – but that’s really only part of it. The best photos make the viewer go “Wow!” – and that can be for any number of reasons – because it strikes an emotional chord, reminds them of a special moment in their own lives, or is just breathtakingly beautiful. With a really great subject, we can overlook faults in technique or composition, as the impact transcends such mundane considerations.
Tell us about your favourite photograph, either your own or someone else’s, and please send us a copy if you have one!
Lois Wakeman - Glancing Light
Having to choose is like deciding which 8 tracks to take to the desert island – very difficult. I shall be big-headed and choose one of my own as it isn’t fair to pick one other person above all those who have inspired me. My favourite changes from time to time as more current images go to the front of the queue, but one that I think stands the test of time as far as I am concerned is this shot of beach huts on Monmouth beach has always been one of my favourites, although it has never sold well. I like the strong geometric composition, the slight ambiguity of the angles that mean you really have to look to see what’s going on, and the fact that this one really is all about the light. There are a few weeks in early spring when the sunset light strikes the front of the huts at the right angle, and for the rest of the year, you really don’t get the same effect.