Judith Acland at samizPhot Judith.Acland
Photography means to me that I am now able to be creative; I am unable to draw or paint but with a camera there are endless possibilities.

It is rare now that I leave home without a camera; should I forget, it's like leaving a friend behind and you always miss out on the fun if you are alone.

I just love the composition of pictures: will it work, won't it work? I am exploring something that has been hidden from view and is suddenly revealed although it's been there all the time.

My mother had a black box Brownie and photographed family holidays at the seaside; I remember this from about the age of six. The pictures were processed as colour transparencies surrounded by a black border, easily viewed and how exciting it was to see the results!

On my twelfth birthday I was give a camera gift set, a Brownie made from hard black Bakelite. I forget the film size but I saw an exact copy of the camera in a junk shop recently. At that time I thought cameras were only for photographing relatives and friends, so I did just that. There followed three other cameras, but they didn't inspire the same affection as my mother's Box Brownie and were used for much the same purposes as that first one. (Though I did win a minor prize in a National Trust competition, a composition of the church at Dyrham Park.) 

Since then I have had fits and starts at taking pictures but it was only recently that I have begun to enjoy the art of photography.

Ruari Mears was the person who introduced me to what is possible with images on the computer. He has a huge store of knowledge and the wonderful ability to share it in an easily understood way. He made me comfortable in learning new skills for getting the very best from images, or just having fun. I used to tell him that I was stupid and would never learn, and he always replied: "There is no such thing as stupid, and everyone is capable of learning". I had only a basic compact film camera, and had gone to learn how to catalogue and store images from prints: yes, I did learn that, but his enthusiasm got me started on projects too. One memorable project was a collage from Bristol's street rubbish: the idea was mine, the technical expertise was Ruari's. I caught the digital photography bug from him, and was lent a camera for the summer by a friend who also insisted that I was not stupid. Learning with Ruari I came to see see things differently and I never really looked back.

I have received much encouragement, too, from Heather Powazek Champ of The Mirror Project.

I now work with both film and digital Pentax P30, Pentax *istD, a range of prime and zoom lenses for both, some filters and a small go-anywhere Fuji. I don't get on with tripods, but make good use of a monopod. I have been encouraged and helped immeasurably by a succession of equipment loans which have built success, and gradually I have built up some equipment of my own.

I have worked through a series of courses to improve my technique, and it was on a City and Guilds course that I discovered black and white photography.

A Sense of Touch. samizPhot, Apr-May 2005.