Throughout my life, I’ve been a loner, when it comes to my hobbies at least. The things I enjoy the most are the things I can submerge myself into, taking my time and doing them in my own way. When I discovered my love for photography, I would never have considered that my new hobby could be something I could enjoy with other people without feeling inadequate or judged in some way. Someone would always have a better camera than me, or years more experience. They’d understand how to manipulate their equipment to get shots far more beautiful than I could, and thoughts like these made me nervous… until recently.
A couple of weekends ago, I went to a local photography exhibition showcasing the work of the Rye and District Camera Club. I really wanted to talk to some of the photographers and ask some questions, but when I arrived, my anxiety kicked in and I clammed up. I just worked my way around the room, enjoying the photographs, trying not to be noticed.
In the second room, I bumped into the husband of one of my workmates, who is a member of the club. He took me by surprise, appearing suddenly at my side and asking if I wanted to join the club. I had considered it, but felt nervous about asking when I arrived. I told my friend’s husband that I would indeed be interested in joining. I then headed back into the first room and saw a man I knew when I was a child, who is the chairman of the club. I talked to him for a while and by the end of the conversation, I knew I definitely wanted to join.
The following Monday I joined the club for a talk by Paul Dunmall, a renowned photographer who shared a back catalogue of his photography – it was a journey from his first experiments to some of his prize winning work. His talk made me feel a lot better about my own journey. While I’m no professional, I am doing pretty well for someone who has only really been at it for a year! I also met several friendly members of the club, and was invited to join them the following Monday for a night shoot in Hastings.
Monday came around, and even though I was tired from a hard day’s work, I got my act together and drove along to Hastings, where a few of the guys were already waiting. When we set off, there were seven of us, and we walked down from the Jerwood Gallery to the beach, passing between an array of sea-weathered fishing boats and scatterings of brightly coloured nets and ropes.
As we weaved around, and scanned the coastline for a good shot, our little group dispersed, and for some time, I wasn’t sure where everyone was, but we eventually came back together as the sun was setting over the town. The sky turned from blue, to pastel pink, to a softly glowing orange, and then to darkness. It was far from the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen, but I enjoyed capturing its changing colours over the skyline and beach.
After the colours had faded from the sky, the remaining five of us wandered back into town and enjoyed some fish and chips. I was pleasantly surprised at how chilled and friendly the guys were – not that I’d expected anything else, but I had expected to feel a little awkward in a group of strangers. As we all sat, chatting, I knew that this was a group of people I could see myself fitting in to. We all have a shared interest, for a start, but as well as that, they are all genuinely really nice.
Once we were completely stuffed, we strolled through the Old Town, making the most of any last glint of light. It was becoming quite difficult to capture anything good by this point, but we had a bit of fun laughing at some of the weird and wonderful shop displays before calling it a night and heading home.
So, I have concluded that I was right to take a step out of my comfort zone and seek out other people to share my passion for photography with. I received such a warm welcome from the members of the camera club, and I will absolutely be going back for more!
To see the rest of my night shoot photography, click here.