Tell us about how you became interested in photography.
I’ve dabbled in photography throughout my life. In my final year of high school I took an elective photography class as I thought it would be easy—just aim and shoot. But the cameras were manual and the teacher was strict. His photography assignments were prescriptive and boring. We didn’t get on at all. He gave us more freedom to complete our final project and I did well on that. He praised a number of my photos. After that, I saw photography as a way to capture mundane moments I felt sure I’d forget later. The last few days of high school I took loads of photos of classmates. I still didn’t really know what I was doing, and back it those days there were only film cameras. I had to send off the roll to be developed and wait to see if I’d captured anything ‘good’. Those photos became very popular at school reunions when I took them along years later, but after I left school I didn’t really think about photography for decades.
Then in 2008, I won a trip to New Zealand and took along a friend who was a photographer. His photos were always amazing and he taught me a lot about framing and lighting. We spent a whole afternoon once waiting for the perfect shot of a trolley bus and a car going around a corner. But I didn’t mind. I think that’s when I started paying attention to the composition of my shots. (Thanks, Russell.)
Now that I live in the Scottish Highlands, I feel compelled to try and capture its beauty.
What made you decide on this photo?
I think it was the fact it was a sunny day. It was also the closest photo I had that fit the brief regarding location and focus, and also left space for the title and blurb. I took a lot of photos of Blackpool that day—it was my first time there. My partner and I were on our way down to Porthcawl in Wales for their annual international Elvis festival, so it felt right to stop in Blackpool—a sort of UK Vegas. I’m glad we did! The beach front is fabulous for photographs. I toyed with submitting a ‘busier’ Blackpool photo but in the end decided less is more. It seems I made the right choice!
Tell us all about how you made it.
I wanted to capture the expanse of sky, beach, sea and indicate I was in Blackpool. Normally, I wouldn’t shoot into the sun but keeping the sun just out of the frame seemed to work. It’s obligatory to photograph the Blackpool Tower when in Blackpool, right?
What has been the funniest thing that has happened to you as a photographer?
I have loads of photo mishaps. It takes me ages to compose a shot—even on an auto setting. It’s probably why my photos tend to be of landscapes…hills, trees and flowers don’t move. If I try to take a photo quickly, it usually turns out something like this…
One day my partner and I were driving through a small Highland fishing village where Ian Rankin has a house. As we approached the house, to my utter excitement, Ian Rankin came out! I told my partner to slow down so I could get a good shot at close range as we drove by. For all my efforts and concentration, I am now the proud owner of a blurred photo of the house next to Ian Rankin’s…. (I still showed everyone.)
How did you hear about our competition?
A wonderful writing pal who is very supportive of my photography (and writing) saw the call on Twitter (or whatever it’s called now) and sent me the tweet asking if I had any Lancashire photos. Luckily, I did. Thanks, Michelle!
Do you enter many competition?
I tend to submit my photos to literary magazines rather than competitions. Often, literature magazines have photography calls and use the image to accompany the writing. And they pay! I write short stories and flash fiction and like to enter writing competitions so my photography a handy way to fund my writing habit.
Do you have any advice for other photographers?
I’m not a professional photographer so I don’t feel qualified to give any advice. During the pandemic, I took an online photography course where we looked at a variety of photographers and their work. Seeing different styles (like street photography) was interesting and gave me things to think about in my own photography. Since I live in the Scottish Highlands, it’s relatively easy to take great nature photos and most of my published photographs are of Highland landscapes. I suppose photography is like writing: the key is to find your own look or tone, what’s specific to you. Then do your best to capture it truthfully.
Originally from Missouri, Sherry Morris (@Uksherka) writes prize-winning fiction from a farm in the Scottish Highlands where she pets cows, watches clouds and dabbles in photography. Her photos feature with Sunlight Press, Briefly Write, Molecule literary and Stanchion magazine. Her writing features in Longleaf Review, Fictive Dream, Reflex Fiction, Free Flash Fiction, NFFD, Flash500, Retreat West and other publications. She reads for the wonderfully wacky Taco Bell Quarterly and her first published story was about her Peace Corps experience in Ukraine.
This photo will be used for the cover.