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ALAN MACKENZIE

I’ve had wide and varied careers, spending 22 years in the Royal Navy, then working for a number of years as an independent child protection consultant in schools nationally and internationally. At one point I was even a blacksmith, although that was a great many years ago.

 

Like many others, my photography journey started when my wife and I had our first child in the mid-90’s. I wanted to capture those special, un-rehearsed moments of his life for us to treasure for years to come. 

It was a steep learning curve; there were no auto modes on the camera, everything was manual, and as you can see with the colour image (one of the very first photographs I took), the outcome wasn’t great.

However, this image remains one of my favourites out of the hundreds of thousands I have taken since. I know exactly where it was and I can remember the day as if it was yesterday. Importantly, it isn’t staged, it’s completely natural. The photo is in a frame on my wall and makes me smile every time I look at it.

Soon after I started to dabble in developing my own photographs. I built a darkroom. Well, when I say built, it was actually my bathroom with lots of velcro over the door and window frames to hang heavy black curtains.

Colour developing was much too expensive and difficult for me so I developed black and white, and this is really where my love for black and white photographs came from.

The black and white image is one of the first I developed and, despite its flaws, I love it. To see something develop before your eyes is something special. It isn’t posed, it’s just natural; a moment in time. Again, I can remember the day this image was taken.

I’ll quite often look through all my favourite photographs and one thing is striking: there are very few where there is the whole family included because I have spent most of the time behind the camera, and that’s a real shame.

With the proliferation of smartphones anybody can take a photograph and put a filter over the top of it. Photography isn’t about taking photographs, the literal translation is ‘painting with light’.  It’s years of experience and knowledge that makes a photograph something special.

Many people don’t like having their photograph taken; thoughts of those cheesy, stiff poses probably come to mind. But that’s not me. I like natural photographs; people in their own environment where they feel at home and relaxed, or out at their favourite haunt just walking around or sitting and chatting while the children are playing. Relaxed, informal and fun. It’s the only way to truly capture natural photographs.

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