Completely by chance, during a walk along London's Southbank, I discovered the Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition - and with it details of a workshop called "Get Off Auto, Get Creative". I've always been enthusiastic about photography - taking great joy both in absorbing other people's work, and also snapping and sharing on my phone. But the title of this workshop served as a guilty reminder that lurking in my study was unused camera equipment bought as a gift a few years ago. At the time I had found it overwhelmingly difficult to grasp other than to snap away in Auto - no better than my phone, so why bother lugging it around ... Maybe now was the time to dust it off.
The workshop was perfect for where I'm at right now - practical, inspiring, accessible. It focused on what can be achieved with the kit you already have, and what can be done in the camera - not being solely reliant on Photoshop later. And this is what appealed to me - to be in the moment with my subject (usually architecture, but nature too), to slow down and think about what I am trying to capture, and how best to do that with the camera in my hand, not setting myself up for hours staring at a screen later on.
The final words of advice were to practice, practice, practice. So the next weekend I headed just two minutes up the lane where I live in South East London to photograph Blythe Hill Fields and our view of London. It was an idea I'd had before but not acted on - starting a series called "Seasons and Skylines", capturing the Fields and the view throughout the year. No excuses - I can get there any time, whatever the weather, however much time I have - and practice, practice, practice.
After a difficult few months (OK, years), managing physical and mental health issues born out of stress, to find a creative practice that seems to offer a quiet, patient space (in my head, as well as the real world) to hone my craft is very welcome. Let's see what happens next, but by placing this first post, weeks after taking the original photos, resisting the Insta-impulse to get content out there NOW, I feel as if I'm taking my first steps towards a more mindful creative practice going forward.