Everyone should hug a tree on their wedding day!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

A little trip around the town I call home...

Ok, firstly, apologies for the time it's taken to write my next post. I've been busy - honest I have! And well, if I'm truthful, not that inspired of late, mainly due to what felt like week after week of dull, damp & grey weather. But then I got a phone call off a colleague of the hubby. The customer restaurant (at Debenhams in Oldham) is having a bit if a revamp. They would like to put some canvasses on the walls depicting local scenes. Could I help? Well, it gave me the excuse to get back out there with the camera ... so I said yes. Then I prayed for some decent weather! Someone heard me as we've had some beautiful days lately.

But then came my next problem. What EXACTLY is there to shoot in Oldham? This town has had such bad press. Many who live here do nothing but plan their escape. But is that fair? So I sat down with a pad and a pen and my laptop and got to thinking (I pressed a few buttons on the keyboard too!). And would you credit it? This town has history! It has landmarks! Gosh, there are even a few parks too! Maybe this wasn't going to be so difficult after all. So on a couple of sunny days last week off I went with my camera. And here are some of the results ...

I have to admit that I haven't quite finished this little project yet. I've only really covered the immediate town centre. But I thought I'd share them with you anyway! I plan to find a mill to shoot - because when I think of Oldham, I think of mills. I'm just searching for the right one at the moment. And I may even venture up into the hills. They're not that far and on a good day there are some beautiful, far-reaching views.

But it just goes to show that there are photo opportunities wherever you live. I've already learnt a lot just by wandering around for an afternoon with my camera. One guy who spotted me taking photographs at the war memorial ended up telling me the story of his partner's Uncle - who just happened to have been awarded the Victoria Cross after the war. And then he showed me his name, up on a little blue plaque on a wall, that I have never spotted before even though I've lived here for 13 years! But they're like that in Oldham ... a friendly bunch.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Creating memories

A couple of years ago I decided to take my photography more seriously. But there was a problem - I can't just advertise myself as a photographer without experience & a portfolio I thought. So what shall I do? Then I spotted it - an advert for a volunteer photography assistant for a local event in Oldham. And it was that application which began the journey.

The event I speak of was the 'Festival of Diversity' ...

The aim of The Festival Partnership has been to celebrate and promote the diversity of Oldham’s communities. It presented opportunities for individuals and groups to discover fresh ideas, participate in and generate new work; furthering their understanding when they meet in creative environments with people from similar or different backgrounds.
I believed strongly in what the Festival team were trying to achieve, and I had a free Summer. I won't cover every event on here, for it would take too long. However, that first Summer saw me working with other photographers and covering events such as Oldham Pride and Oldham's Mela. It was a fantastic experience. So much so, that I started working with the Festival team again last Summer. Although little did we know at the time that it was to be the last Summer of events...

Take a look at their website for more details Festival of Diversity Oldham

So, why am I talking about this today? Well, this is my first blog post on here, and before I start showing you my current work and sharing weddings and events, or just days out, with you, I wanted to show you what photography means to me. It isn't just about doing a job, it isn't just about the pay cheque at the end of the day (if you're lucky!), it's about having a passion that you want to share. It's about creating memories, capturing a moment in time, and most of all, having fun! And it's with all that in mind that I tell you the story of this photograph, and why it means so much to me.

This is Joan. She is a resident at Franklin House in Oldham. In 2010 I was asked to attend some workshops there, and to document what was going on. And it was with some trepidation that I went along on that first Wednesday afternoon. I needn't have been nervous! I was made to feel incredibly welcome! The workshops were all part of Bloom and Grow in Oldham. They were being run by a fabulous artist - Claire Ford - find her blog here Claire Ford Blog - and we were joined by Ian, who is the Activities Co-ordinator at the home. The idea was to create an art installation for the somewhat bland and confusing corridors at Franklin House, and to brighten up the place for the residents who all have dementia. Every week Claire worked with the residents on different themes - rag rugs, stained glass, embroidery - and the residents loved it! They could chat, they could interact, and they could reminisce and create!

For the first week I think they were a little apprehensive of me and my camera. However, by the second week the ladies were far more comfortable in front of the camera; and by our final week they were telling me what to photograph and were posing for me!

But why does this photograph mean so much to me?

Well, in September of 2010 I joined Claire and Ian in the actual installation of the artworks that had been created. Claire had taken a selection of my photographs from the workshops and had them printed. We began to pin these photographs on a notice board in the entrance hallway when Joan came along to say hello. Joan liked to chat! Oh boy, did she love a good natter! And every time she saw me she said 'I'll just go and put the kettle on' - I'm still waiting for that cuppa! But on this day she was different. I stood and watched as she looked at this photograph on the board.  She stroked it, smiled and then touched the pearl necklace on the photograph. For a few minutes Joan was silent. I could almost 'see' her mind ticking over. And then suddenly, as if from nowhere, came the story of the pearl necklace. And I stood in awe as Joan told me of her late husband, of how he bought her the pearl necklace whilst they were on a holiday, of how he was to pass away on that holiday, of how she was to wear that necklace everyday since. She had tears in her eyes, as did I. But not just because of the sadness of the story. Because I was amazed and touched. Amazed that one single photograph could evoke such memories. And it was then that it hit me. That I realised that a photograph is not just a picture to be shoved in a drawer, or left in a folder on a computer. A photograph is a memory; a moment captured in time. It has the power to evoke memories for the viewer. I beleive it helped Joan that day. She smiled as she recalled her husband. She had her hand on the necklace the whole time she was talking to me. The photograph took her back and helped her remember. And then, in a flash, as though this had never happened, Joan turned and said to me, 'I'll just go and put that kettle on.'

For more photographs from this event and others click here Karen Berry Photography on Facebook