Lynne got involved in the project because she wanted to explore photography in more depth and learn how to create ethereal, mysterious images.
Through the sessions with Karen, she found that her ideas about photography and what makes a good picture broadened and that she now looks at pictures differently.
Getting to know her camera better and trying out different technique, with support from Karen and the other participants, has given her a lot more confidence in herself as a photographer:
‘I can go to my camera now and just know what settings to use. I don’t feel frightened of it anymore – it feels more like an extension of myself.’
Previously, Lynne has worked as a community artist and this was one of the first times she’d been involved in a creative project as a participant. When asked how she felt, she said:
‘It’s much nicer being on this side of things! It was really intense working as a community artist – I tended to learn things on the job and every project was asking for something different, so it never felt like I had the chance to go into anything in as much detail as I would’ve liked.’
Lynne emphasized the fact that there are not many workshops or projects you can get involved in where you get the opportunity to really learn about a particular area in depth. She really appreciated getting the chance to work intensively with Karen – someone who know their subject inside out and was always on hand to answer questions and suggest new ideas.
‘For me, it has to be something that goes into enough depth – because I’ve been involved in so many things, I want to make sure that I get a really in-depth understanding of something new.’
Lynne really enjoyed the sense of creative freedom that Karen created and having the chance to experiment with different techniques. Through this experimentation and visiting the garden at different times of day, she had some lovely surprises with some of the images she created (there were also some disappointments, but these were in the minority!).
‘You don’t get the same sort of satisfaction from some pictures as others – when you’ve got the creative freedom, you can concentrate more on the kind of pictures you like to take.’
The project inspired her to get involved in other activities and to continue developing her skills as a photographer.
‘It’s got my imagination going again – that creative thing that could go to sleep when you’re not doing anything. You get really busy and forget about things, but it doesn’t mean it’s gone away – you just need to make the time to get into it again.’
Lynne’s daughter, Annette, also got involved in the project (in both photography and book design workshops) and she said it was great having something that they could do together. They didn’t necessarily spend the sessions working together, bit got together afterwards to talk about what they’d done and go through their photos. When the weather is good, they plan to take days out specifically to take photos. Lynne is also a foster parent and, while she was involved in this project, two of her teenage foster children asked if they could have disposable cameras on a day out because they wanted to have a go at photography for the day.
‘For kids like this to show an interest – it’s amazing. It wasn’t the pictures they were taking or the quality of the pictures that mattered – it meant they were really looking at things when they were there.’
Lynne volunteered to get involved in the York Mystery Plays as a photographer After going along to an initial session though, she decided that it wasn’t for her, as it didn’t feel personal enough – there wasn’t the real sense of community and sharing she’d experienced and enjoyed so much in this project:
‘At the first meeting there were a lot of people and it felt a bit more like ‘every man for himself’. It didn’t feel like as much of a community thing and we wouldn’t have been meeting socially as well. Wouldn’t put me off putting myself forward for things like this in the future though.’
Lynne would love to get involved if the decision is taken to develop the project further and work towards creating a book for publication (she doesn’t feel that she’s been particularly in contact with what the book design group have been doing, except conversations that she’s had with her daughter (who’s one of the book design participants). She feels a sense of responsibility to the other members of the group and would make the time to get involved. She thinks the book would be a great showcase, not just of what the writers and photographers have achieved in a relatively short space of time, but of all the other people involved – those who volunteer in the garden and who were interviewed and photographed.
Lynne thinks it would be a really nice ideas to upload all the photographs that have been taken into a public gallery, so the people involved in the garden project can get to see them all and perhaps order copies. She feels they were really generous with their time and their presence (and that she sometimes felt invasive when photographing them at work or at events in the garden), so it would be good to offer them some of the pictures.