Interview with our new photography tutor, Tony

Meet Tony, one of our talented photography tutors at Flavours. We chatted to him all about his passion for photography, and his favourite Flavours holidays so far!

What first drew your interest in photography?

It started back in the 1950’s when I was about 5 or 6 years old, my Dad was a keen photographer who also processed and printed his own films. I did a few years at some Commercial Photography studios in Manchester, including work in the darkroom which I loved,  but things did not work out and I ended up being made redundant, after the pound was devalued in the mid-sixties, and not being able to get back into photography as no studio was taking on staff at that time.

 

What keeps your passion for photography going?

I really don’t know, I think it’s in the genes. My Dad must have had a few stronger ones than my Mum because I never had the urge to knit or make Ginger Beer! Of course, it’s also in the constant practice – the more photographs I take, the more the passion develops. No two photographs are the same, so it never gets boring!

If someone said to you today that they wanted to take up photography, what would be your top 5 tips for them?

  1. Don’t plan on making a living at it, some people do but they are usually quite lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
  2. Take photographs for yourself and if other people like them see it as a bonus.
  3. Before parting with any money, have a play with more than one or two cameras, see how the controls work and if they are in a logical place for you to find easily. If you are happy with the camera in your hands, and comfortable with it to your eye, you are far more likely to use it. You would not buy an expensive pair of shoes or jewellery without trying them first. It should be the same with a camera. It’s far better to spend a bit more to get something you feel comfortable with that you’ll enjoy using, than getting something at a lesser price that never gets taken out of the bag.
  4. Once you’ve got the camera get to know how it works, try not to use the AUTO setting and get an understanding of how shutter speed, aperture and ISO work together, then take plenty of photographs and analyse them. Break the rules from time to time, try different things. Photography, no matter if for profit or fun, should be enjoyable.
  5. Try and find a decent camera club if you can. It can be an invaluable source of information and advice, plus you’ll get to see what equipment other people use and how they approach photography. Everyone will have some points to make so listen to what they say, but remember, it is only ‘their opinion’ and you are entitled to make up your own mind.

Can you tell us a bit about why you love photographing different parts of Italy?

I just love the country. Even when I go back to a place like Venice I can always find something different, or new, to point my camera at. I do tend to get up early on holiday and that’s when I get some of my best shots before anyone else is around. There is always something interesting to photograph and I tend to find the locals are far more tolerant of a camera than many places I’ve been. I always say  “Don’t just look at what’s in front of you, look up and look down, there are many things that you’ll miss otherwise”.

Last year, you spent some time in Tuscany teaching our photography guests. What were some of your highlights of the trip?

Without doubt meeting the guests was the main highlight for me, you never know what mix they’ll be and that’s what I like. It can be a bit of a challenge as they are at different levels of understanding as far as photography goes, plus they do come with plenty of questions and sometimes it’s how to answer them to make it understandable that is the most challenging part! It’s also nice to see them getting to know each other and make new friends.

The place we stayed and the towns and villages we visited were very photogenic and everyone got some fantastic images from the week. We even managed to find a derelict house to photograph during a futile drive to a hilltop village in heavy rain, the village walk was off but the guests got some great shots of the abandoned property!

We did an impromptu portrait session which was asked for by some of the guests, it was something I had not planned for but it went down a treat with everyone joining in to have their photograph taken (even me!). We even got one of them to pose in the local vineyard for something different.

I also really enjoyed the evening reviews of some of the day’s photographs chosen by each guest. I think they were surprised by the positive comments received from everyone present, including our Chef who was lovely and we all got on really well with.

It was like one big happy family and the whole week was immensely enjoyable, I don’t think I’ve laughed so much with people who were total strangers one day and almost best friends the next. We still keep in touch.

 

What did you find were the main aspects that your guests wanted to overcome on their holiday?

It was mainly to understand how to control their camera and adjust various settings to help improve their photography. Almost everyone had their cameras on AUTO or PROGRAM which means all you do is point-and-shoot.

I did a basic shutter/aperture/ISO presentation which had them using the M (Manual) setting on their cameras. This meant they had to select the correct shutter speed, aperture and ISO to achieve a correctly exposed image. Apart from me explaining, at the start, what we were going to do and giving them a hand-out sheet it was a practical lesson with plenty of one-to-one where needed. It went down really well and many of the guests went completely manual for much of the week.

You’re going to be heading out to Sicily with a few different groups this year. What are you most looking forward to?

Well, meeting them and getting to know them first of all. If Tuscany is anything to go by Flavours guests are a friendly and likeable bunch!

Sicily is a destination I have not been to before so I am really looking forward to being in a new place with different scenery, towns, villages, buildings and people. I’m also keen to see if we can get some shots of Mt. Etna whilst we’re there!

 

If you are interested in putting your camera to good use this year, Flavours Holidays offer Photography holidays to Tuscany and Sicily on selected dates from May – September.  For more information, take a look at our Photography pages.