For me photography as a hobby really started as an adjunct to another hobby, restoring old aircraft at Duxford. This really needed photographing as we removed parts for a visual record of what we were doing. My first “proper” camera a Praktica MTL5 with a couple of lenses (50mm and a 135mm) was obtained to do this.
As a volunteer at Duxford at air shows, I was the Control tower runner (I was 14 at the time) and due to this I was lucky because I was in the perfect position when an aircraft crashed to shoot it. Thus, I ended up getting my first photograph published in the papers. I can say lucky as the pilot survived the crash unhurt and my other photographs of the incident led to the cause of the crash being quickly realised.
With the money I made from this I treated myself to a new Ricoh XRX and 2 zoom lenses which I hated using as it was too automated, so I went down to the local camera exchange in Cambridge and swapped it for a Nikon F3 and about 4 lenses (The F3 was part of a batch of 50 he had got in from the local paper as he reckoned it was easier to sell the XRX). This I carried on using for many years and so was a latecomer to Digital likely because I always remembered my experience with the XRX, then the Nikon got “lost” when I split from my first wife. I did get a little compact but was never really happy with the results and my interest waned except for the normal snapshots.
Then when I met Becky I decided to do a degree with the Open University in Psychology. Half way through the course I ended up with a 6 week break and decided to fill this with a T189 introduction to photography 10 point course. I got myself a Digital compact, a Fuji a235 for £50 and took the course which led me to using Flickr (and using Photoshop elements 5). Then I found Lightroom. I had always enjoyed taking Black and White shots with film and this gave me my method of getting decent Black and White shots from Digital.
So I then progressed to a couple of Bridge cameras; a Fuji 2500HD and a S4000, took a lot of pictures with both but always felt that I was missing something. I then had a U.S publisher contact me about a picture I had on Flickr asking if he could use it on the cover of a school text book. This led to the (money for and) purchase of my Nikon D80, I started shooting RAW and realised this was what I was really looking for from digital
It had been suggested a few years ago that joining a camera club was a good idea I went to one local club and found it very uninviting but it was even suggested at the time that Willfield was likely the best one locally to join but trying to track any details about the club was tricky!! (Note from Claire, this was noted and we now have this website so that we can be found!)Then I decided to look on Flickr for the club found someone to contact (thanks Claire) and joined.