Lens artists Challenge #133: My Photography Journey

This week, the theme Amy has chosen is My Photography Journey. 

I first picked up a camera when I was 11, I think, a Kodak instamatic, and it cost rather a lot to get the films processed, so I didn’t take many pictures. I later got my mother’s Retinette, which had quite a sturdy metal body, a decent Lens and controls for shutter speed and aperture, but you had to use a separate exposure meter so my father taught me the sunny 16 rule….which could be effective! It was a good grounding in understanding f stops and the relationship between Aperture and shutter speed. I have always used manual controls on the camera.

Guinea pigs, early 1970s

Later I got my first SLR, which was OK, but then I got a secondhand Canon FT, a very solid workhorse. In those days I would take images more as a record of what I saw, but did try to compose my shots…people would say I “had a good eye”.

Woman in Black, Ponte Vecchio, Firenze, Italia

I used to take monochrome images as well as colours slides, and spent happy hours in a makeshift darkroom, doing my own developing and printing. But for some reason, I didn’t study the work of great photographers or try to take my camera skills beyond taking ‘records’, and composing a shot reasonably well.

I did used to get frustrated when I couldn’t seem to get shots with atmosphere, especially with regard to derelict, abandoned or ruined buildings. When I had to retire early due to ill health, that’s when I started to think a bit more. And I did Otto Von Münchow’s online course “Finding Your Photographic Voice”…and that was the ‘aha’ trigger….really learning about the different elements that make up an image, and the emotional impact (or lack of it) of an image. Thinking about what you want to show your viewer with an image. From there I started to look more closely at the work of other photographers, and then came across a Canadian photographer called David du Chemin and did one of his online courses, and devoured his books.

The most significant aspect of all this was that I was becoming more attuned to light…. Well, light what photography is all about, yes? Except I hadn’t really ‘got’ that aspect. Now I could start injecting more atmosphere into some images.

Also ways of gaining more creativity with slow shutter speed, ICM, wide aperture, negative space, Contre jour.

Chinese lantern tulip, isolated using negative space
slow shutter speed to give the impression of movement

And I’m still learning, albeit slowly, and will continue to do so.

Linked to Lens-artist’s at Amy’s here


  1. I do love guinea pigs. My Oskar was one of my favourite pets. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. I shall have to look for David du Chemin to see what he offers, Sue. I like that you continue to experiment 🙂 🙂

  3. Fabulous Sue. Love the B&W images. I never did get my darkroom. 🙂

  4. Amy

    This beautiful set of photos say much of your progress. I always love how you capture lights. The tulip is beautiful beyond words. I’m in awe with the slow shutter speed shot.
    Thank you, Sue for sharing your journey with us.

  5. My first camera was a Kodak Instamatic, too. 😀 Later in South Africa I took over my husband’s SLR Minolta. But photos were really expensive and I used it for holidays and later for taking pics of the children, nothing else. I had a few electronic cameras, they were all hand me downs until I started taking photography a bit more seriously (the operative word here is “a bit”). I really enjoyed looking at photos from different periods in your photographic journey.

  6. I cannot help but think how far we’ve come as I’ve read about everyone’s journeys this week Sue. Many of us said the same thing – that we’d started early shooting friends and family or documenting places we’d been, and only later begun to think of photography as art. Clearly you’ve taken your photography to new heights – a lovely compliment to Otto and to du Chemin ( I love him too). Let’s hope we’re ALL still learning, right?! Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us.

  7. What I love about photography is that you never stop learning, and there’s so many possible aha! moments. I’ve been playing around with mostly point and shoots for the last 20 years but I’ve been thinking more and more about buying a new camera. Your post is further inspiration to getting that new camera and going back to using manual more…

  8. I’m on David du Chemin’s email list and read, learn, and watch his videos, but I’ve never taken one of his courses. Your tulip photo is stunning.

  9. How come there are no comments visible? I know I posted in here yesterday! Anyway, I’m glad I came back because it’s reminded me about David du Chemin. The reason I came back, Sue, is to share a link from Cadyluck Leedy. I don’t think you follow her and she’s just come up with an interesting idea, which might be your sort of thing (thinking of your One series) https://thecadyluckleedy.com/2021/02/03/just-one-person-from-around-the-world-balboa-spain/ Feel free to delete this if not. Have a nice Wednesday! 🙂 🙂

  10. An Instamatic? You young thing you! Box Brownie for me! I was well into my teems before I got an Instamatic. A great tale of your journey, which still continues …

  11. V. interesting to have insight into your learning curve, Sue.

  12. When I was young, I spent lots of time in a home-made darkroom for enlarging and processing. I know of what you speak! 🙂

  13. I remember having a Kodak Instamatic. It took such small pictures that they are now difficult to scan and convert with any sort of success.

  14. Interesting! I had a Kodak I dramatic too (though the first camera I remember was mum and dad’s Brownie). I never progressed as you did though and thought Kodak’s APS system was the bees’ knees. Very shortsighted of them to develop it just as digital was coming in! A couple of simple digital cameras on, I rely totally on my iPhone. John is the clever one!

  15. Oh what a marvelous story of your photographic history. I love the progression of your photography too. 😀

  16. Awww, I love the guinea pigs! I had hamsters 😊 So great to see your progression. It just makes me realize how much I don’t know. But I guess I have the rest of my life to figure it out. I do love to look at other people’s photographs and get ideas.

  17. A fabulous journey Sue, I love your work

  18. Sue, you had a marvelous journey, and still have! Few people have your innovative and positive thinking. And as you said – you had the eye right from the start. Love your work. ♥ Glad you found the time to join in.

  19. Wonderful. I love that slow shutter photo

  20. Wonderful autobiography Sue. And inspiring. A delight on a rainy Saturday morning. And thanks for your educating of me over the years: still need to mistress atmosphere (and moving away from manual.) Nudge me!!!

  21. Quite an inspiring journey, Sue.

  22. You really do have a good eye.

    Aww your frustration when you couldn’t get shots with atmosphere, of ruined buildings.

    A shot of a ruined building without atmosphere might as well not be a shot at all. There’s too much being said when we look and feel it’s energy in real life – for it to not be completely captured on camera. I feel your pain.

    See, having I’ll health wasn’t that big of an inconvenience, because look where it landed you, to learn more about your photographic voice.

    Here’s to you continuing to learn, and continuing to show us your greatness. 🙂

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