Coalville Photographed, By Graham Ellis
A Series of Short Films By Christopher Mear
In the weeks leading up to this particular Coalville Photographed shoot, which happened to be on the estate Graham has lived for the majority of his time in the town, he had become increasingly interested, excited and vocal about the online photographic guru, Mike Browne. Graham passionately suggested that I watch one particular youtube video of Browne’s above any other. Entitled How dedicated to photography are you?, this particular video was made following a letter Mike received from a man named Peter:
Does it happen with photography like with music, that you could be a professional and/or great photographer if you start at an early age? Does age matter when it comes to becoming an excellent photographer?
To which Mike delivered a 6 and a half minute monologue about the importance of dedication:
Well the thing is, how much do you want to be an ‘excellent photographer’? Is it something you want to do or is it something you’re going to do? But what’s the difference? Well, I’ve been running my photography business for a long time, and many years ago I chose to turn my hobby, which was photography, into my income, and that’s a whole other story. But part of that was that I wanted to be able to travel and see some more of the world, to sort of experience some of the amazing things that go on out there in the world. But it was always ‘something I’d like to do’, and time passed and the business started to grow and I was having a pretty good time, and I didn’t have to work terribly hard to cover my expenses, and I could go and play on my motorbike. But it was always ‘something I’d like to do’. Then, last year, something happened. My brilliant, awesome, inspiring, funny, witty and incredible Mum, died, in September last year. And it was very devastating, despite the fact I knew it was coming. But something in me changed then, I kind of realised how old I was, I kind of realised that ‘hey, you’re in you fifties now and you’ve always wanted to go off and see some more of the world’. But that’s all it was, ‘I wanted to’. And when my Mum died it changed from ‘I want to’, to ‘I’m going to’… I got dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make that happen.
Last year, I was teaching at a local night school, I was just teaching adult education to a bunch of people who were paying a fairly reasonable fee to come on a photography course… but something that really amazed me was that I would give people some homework to do, which was associated with the lesson that we’d just done, and then the following week, quite a large percentage of people would say ‘I didn’t have time this week’, or, I could see that they’d sort of come home and they’d sort of got half an hour before they’d got to jump in the car because they’ve got to go, and they’d sort of done their homework because ‘Mike might grizzle at them’. Well I don’t care if they do the homework or not, and I don’t mind if you guys do the homework or not. I don’t mind what you do, so long as you’re happy. But here’s the key; if you want to take ‘excellent photographs’ or maybe become a professional photographer you’ve got to do the homework, you’ve got to put in the hours, you’ve got to dedicate some time to doing stuff, you have to get out there and practice and get experience.
Photography’s experiential learning - most things in life are. You have to experience it and get the experience so that you know what to do in a given situation. Much as I would love to be able to put my hand up here and go ‘clip’ and unplug knowledge and then insert it into your head for you - for a fee, of course. Then it would be awesome, but I can’t do that. Wouldn’t that be easy? I wouldn’t have to webmaster the site. I wouldn’t have to keep thinking up new ideas for films, shooting stuff and having poor old Lorna standing out in the cold and rain and all that kind of stuff while we’re making films. The thing is, it’s a dedication thing. So, whatever that means for you…
Watch Mike Browne’s full monologue here.
The camera doesn't do anything, Coalville Photographed via YouTube.