I first studied photography as a support subject as part of my Fine Art (painting) degree course in Newport, Wales. The Magnum photographer, David Hurn had just set up a documentary photography course. I think if digital imaging had been in existence then, I would have given up painting in favour of photography but I had little money to buy equipment and materials and it was not possible to work with colour in the darkroom. I enjoyed making my own prints, except the bit where you had to wind film onto a spool inside a black bag prior to it being developed. I wasn’t good at it and found it stressful as there was no margin for error so I usually got a technician to do it for me.
I haven’t painted since college, though I taught Art for five years at Mayfield College in East Sussex. I started taking photos seriously again after going on inspiring treks to Peru and in Vietnam earlier this decade. By the time I went to Tibet, I had a new camera – my first (new one) unbelievably.
The arrival of digital imaging has made photography accessible to me and to others who previously had no access to a darkroom. It’s cheaper (I think), even with all the computer crashes/ hassle etc. – you have backed-up all your files at least twice haven’t you and given aunty Bessie a copy of your hardrive to store in case your house blows up?
It’s made possible a way of working which fits into the fast paced way we live in the 21st century. You can stop and start, re-work images with ease, create in ways that weren’t possible before and hugely speed up the workflow with endless opportunities to experiment and make changes. All this in the comfort of your home, (cheaper again) though I’ve lost count of all the burnt dinners I’ve had to throw away as I’ve been absorbed /lost in my digital world and neglected to turn off the oven.
I feel comfortable with photography in a way I didn’t with painting. It’s the ideal medium for me to be creative and explore my passion for colour and the effects of light. It suits my personality, sometimes gregarious, sometimes introverted. I can change my subject matter and way of working to suit my mood and easily switch to black and white when I think necessary. I’m particularly interested in macro, portrait and street photography but love taking photos of just about anything.
I love “hunting” photos and seeking out images. Shooting seems a very apt word to describe the action. I suppose I’m addicted to that thrilling feeling you get when you’ve been trying hard to make something work – for hours, days, weeks. You’re getting tired but then the magic starts to happen – Ureka! You know when you’ve “caught your fish”. It really is the best feeling and probably what drives most of us to make the sacrifices we inevitably do ( forget the holiday, new clothes, tyres for the car – I need a new camera/tripod/computer!). Handbag? Mine’s a Kata.
I am now working mainly as a fine art photographer but undertake various commissions; you can contact me through my website which is www.colleenslaterphotography.co.uk. I sell work at exhibitions, ‘Eclectia’ gallery and photographic studio at Brighton marina and through the website.