Featured Photographer for November

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Members Contribution by David Bell
I had taken photographs before but upon arrival in Sharjah 15 years ago my hobby became a bit more serious. I battled through the electronics souks (no Carrefour or Plug-ins in those days) and studied radically different prices for the same equipment before plumping for a Canon EOS film camera. This I used to varying degrees of success without ever actually using 90 per cent of its functions.
With the introduction of digital I was determined not to be left behind. I decided to utilize my Canon lenses and bought a 300D. It was then that I decided that this was not going to replace my EOS 5 and would be a back up to film but I did resolve to actually learn what some of the buttons actually did. I managed the latter but as my EOS 5 is now gathering dust and probably still has the same film in it I am a true digital convert.
I was aided greatly in developing as a photographer by the courses and workshops organized by Karen and Gulf Photo Plus. I have been on courses and workshops covering a variety of themes and featuring a wide range of photographers including Bryan Petersen, Tom Mackie, Bruce Smith and recently Tim Flach. I even managed to make it to a desert workshop two hours after my son was born so two totally different shoots that day!
I discovered through my experiences on these courses that my preference was not for inanimate objects but for people and as I work as a teacher at Jumeirah Primary School I had ready access to a vast number of budding models. I had taken numerous photographs of my own two children and my role at school developed with the encouragement of my Head of Department and the Headmaster and various “projects” which kept landing on my desk.
After seeing some images I had taken at a swimming gala Mr. Dennis, the Headmaster, asked if I would look through the school's photograph library and select a number of images to print in black and white for the administration offices. These images were to contrast with the many colour images already displayed around the school. Unfortunately the majority of these images were low resolution so I asked if I could shoot some images myself. Thankfully when I presented these images to the middle management team they were impressed enough to order seventeen A2 images which now adorn the walls of the offices of the school.
I have to say that the whole process was rather nerve wracking, especially presenting your images and hoping for positive feedback. All photographers at any level I'm sure can empathize with this but I have to say after overcoming my trepidation the feedback and reactions of staff, parents and pupils has been wonderful.
I have found the whole experience immensely rewarding, quite how I would have handled it if they thought my images were not fit for public consumption I don't like to dwell on! I am lucky to work at a school that encourages talent (perceived or actual!) and with a Headmaster who never seems to run out of ideas to keep me busy. I will still attend workshops and talks as you learn so much and not just from the full-time professionals. Many of the photographers that attend Gulf Photo Plus Events shoot incredible images themselves and the atmosphere is an extremely supportive one.
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