We have met alot of new people over the years who share the same passion for photography that we both have. What surprised us is the distances they are prepared to travel to join us on an event. We caught up with Sue Hartley, who travels up regularly from Nottingham to attend our events, for a good chat.

Here is what we discussed

SD : Please tell our readers a little bit about you as a photographer and your accrediation journey?

SHI have had a fascination with photography for as long as I can remember. I still have the first photograph I remember taking, which was of my grandad when I was around 5yrs old. I had my first camera at 10yrs, having pestered for one for Christmas, but that wasn’t well thought out as, on my pocket money I couldn’t afford film or developing!

Fast forward through the teenage years (too busy with clubbing and music gigs) to getting married and having kids, and I was always the one taking the snaps on family outings and promising myself that one day I’d learn to do this properly. I was in my late 30s when I signed up for City & Guilds Photography at night school and passed all seven modules with a distinction in each. Three distinctions were enough to automatically qualify for LRPS, but I never took this up as I objected to having to pay an annual membership to be able to use the letters.

I moved down to Nottinghamshire and joined a camera club, which led me to eventually apply for my CPAGB, which I passed. I have my DPAGB assessment looming, so fingers crossed…

My interest is in photography itself – I just love taking and making images and really don’t mind the genre. I take landscape, macro, wildlife, street – any excuse to pick a camera. I have also shot more weddings than I care to remember. Recently I seem to have done more portraiture than anything else, and I blame this entirely on Graham and Emma!

SD : What camera equipment do you use? Camera, lenses, lights?

SHI have been a Canon user for over 30 yrs and just love my 5D Mk iv. I also have a 7D Mk ii that I use for wildlife and sports. I recently bought a M6ii to carry around in my handbag and dip my toe into mirrorless, but it still doesn’t feel like a ‘proper camera’. My lenses are all Canon L series and include a 100mm macro, 16-35mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, and 100-400mm.

For lighting I bought a 3 x Rotolight Neo2 package and an AOS from the same range at the Photography Show last year. I love the versatility of being able to use them as either continuous or flash units, on mains power or battery operation (great for location work), and being able to adjust light temperature as well as power output.

Post-processing is pretty much exclusively Photoshop & Lightroom, with just a hint of Topaz.

SD : What is your view of photography events as a method of improving technique?

SH : I think good photography events are an excellent way of honing your photography skills and techniques. Choose ones with knowledgeable instructors with a proven track record and you get the chance to experiment and try out ideas while there’s someone on hand that can give you on-the-spot advice on how to achieve good results, and how to create the image you have in your head but can’t quite get your camera to translate. There’s nothing like hands on experience to help you improve.

I also think, however, that you don’t learn much on days where you’re just told what settings to put your camera on and the subject is set up in front of you for you to do nothing more than click the shutter. You may come away with good images, but you have no idea how to replicate the effect when you’re out on you own.

SD :  What do you look for when selecting an event to attend?

SH : For me an event needs to be well organised, offer good value for money (it’s hard-earned and I am a Yorkshire woman!), offer something I’d not be able to set up for myself, and be fun – this is, after all, a hobby that is meant to bring us pleasure.

I love the Session Days events because they always have exclusive use of great locations and offer a variety of very professional models within the chosen setting. They tick all of my check-list boxes as I wouldn’t be able to afford this calibre of model and location doing this alone. The format means there is plenty of scope for originality and photographer input so that we don’t all go home with identical images, and the way the day is organised means that everyone gets a fair chance to work with every model on the day. Last, but not least, every event I’ve done with them has been fun to do, and I’ve made some good friends along the way.

SD :  Which is your favourite image taken on a Session Day Event and why?

SH : This is the hardest question to answer. I’ve agonised over it! Jack Cutler as any one of his amazing characters? The scary Halloween zombies? The regal ladies and gentlemen at Gawsworth Hall? The Bidston Lighthouse family? Our own Graham Currey as the Joker? The amazing models down on the farm (who can forget Alan Andrews as a chicken thief?)? I’ve finally settled on the lovely Sarah McQueen dancing in Atlas Mill, who was the first model I worked with on my first Session Day. I’ve chosen this partly because I love the image – the gorgeous light, Sarah’s pose, the lines in her skirt echoing the lines in the floor and the pillars – and partly because of the memory. Never having attended a workshop before I was nervous, but Sarah was so lovely to work with and she, along with Emma and Graham chipping in helpful advice and suggestions for us newbies, put us so at ease that I relaxed into the shoot and had a fab day. Photography is about making memories, after all.


Sara McQueen by Sue Hartley