Posted by Tony Finney

My earliest memories of photography are playing with my Dad’s old camera as a small boy.  I couldn’t tell you the make or model but I remember that the lens folded out on bellows, I think it took 620 film and it had a beautiful leather case. This camera had followed my Dad through his army service and I think that it was the camera used to take baby photos of me in the mid 1960’s. The camera has gone but when my Dad passed away I inherited all the photos that he took with that camera and you could say that playing with that camera planted the seeds of my interest in photography though I never actually took any pictures with it.

My next camera was a little compact 110 film camera which I think came from Boots which I used for snaps.  Eventually my Mum and Dad bought me a Polaroid instant camera, incidentally I found both of these cameras when I was clearing my Dad’s bungalow and are now both in my collection.  These cameras really did give me the photography bug and for my 21st birthday I persuaded my parents to buy me my first film SLR, a Zenit 11, which again forms part of my collection.  I also started to buy one of those part-works collections on photography in an attempt to learn how to use the damn thing and to take better photographs and I am sure that I still have several volumes of it in the loft.  Once I had met my first wife I had less time and money to spend on my hobby and eventually the old Zenit got stowed away and was replaced with a little Olympus compact which was used to document family holidays but nothing more exciting than that.

Decades passed and I acquired my first digital camera, as a present for my second wedding. This was a little 5 mega-pixel model, which again was used to document family holidays and special occasions. It produced reasonable if unspectacular results and was duly replaced with a snazzier Samsung model, with more pixels and a better optical zoom. This satisfied my camera lust for a little while but then whilst on holiday in Cornwall I noticed all these people with interchangeable lens cameras and I persuaded my wife that we ought to think about upgrading as we’d get far better pictures.  She eventually agreed and said that I could have one for Christmas. So I diligently did my research on the internet and decided that I needed an entry level DSLR and so plumped for the Nikon D3100, a choice of model and manufacturer that I have never regretted.

I got my camera that Christmas and being a man took it out of the box and played with, occasionally grudgingly looking at the manual when I got completely bewildered. This went on for some time and I took the camera on a cruise and got some passable results, more by luck than judgment (a technique which I still make use of to this day), but it really brought home to me that my camera was capable so much more than I was able to make use of.

So in the end I decided to learn how to use it properly and I eventually found a three week course at Stoke-on-Trent College, during which I learned more about photography and using my camera than in the previous nine months.  This was a taster course for a longer course, which I stayed on for and met some great friends, and a group of us resolved to continue our photographic education by joining a camera club together, hence the mass influx to Willfield Camera Club.  It also marked my conversion from a snapshot holiday photographer to an enthusiast.  The camera bug had well and truly taken hold again.  The more I learned about different aspects of photography the more different bits of kit and lenses I found I “needed”, a testament to my shrinking bank balance and bulging kit bag.  Eventually I felt that I needed to upgrade my camera, I wanted something with more features and options and this last Christmas I became the proud owner of a new Nikon D7000, which is an absolutely fantastic camera and, for now, gives me all the functionality that I need.

I have never been good at drawing and art but in photography I have found an outlet for my creative inclinations. I’m probably not that good as photographer, there are certainly some very talented members in the club who inspire me to try and improve myself.  More importantly photography has widened my circle of friends and meet lots of talented people as well as taking me to some places that I wouldn’t ordinarily have visited.