My photographic journey

I’m weird. The easier things get the less interested I am!

I got interested in photography about 1994. I bought a Canon EOS 1000 FN from Dixon’s as I was looking for a new hobby.

I’ve always been interested in The Lake District since my first visit in about 1984. So…

First photographic adventure, the most photographed bridge in the world…

I shot the original image on the Canon EOS 1000 FN with a CRAB bracket (Google is your friend if you’re not sure what that is) on Kodak film (I can’t remember what stock)

I was working at Kellogg’s at the time and I’d showed someone the photographic (6”x4”) – they asked for an enlargement – so off to Max Spielmann I went.

I brought the enlargement into work. And someone else saw it….and asked if I’d photograph their wedding!!! What!!! I’d no idea what to do. I told them that! However….it was a small civil ceremony in a registry office so thought…I’ll give it a shot!

Then…through word of mouth I got asked to photograph more and more weddings!

Scary. I thought. Things got serious! I bought 2x EOS 5D and a decent flash!

Photographed a lot of weddings on film….

Carried on shooting on film for years. Carried 2 camera bodies up most mountains in The Lake District (and Ben Nevis) – one with Fuji Velvia and one with Ilford Delta 400. with a Benbo Trekker tripod!

Then…

Moved to digital. An EOS 10D.

Shot a wedding on (two) Canon EOS 10D’s.

What a game changer! So much easier. No stress wondering what the image was going to turn out like!

Then I had to learn the image editing process.

I carried on photographing weddings on 20D, 40D, 7D and 7D MKII. Until I got bored.

Everyone had a digital camera, everyone was a wedding photographer. The democratising of photography whilst a good thing, devalued wedding photography.

So…I gave up eventually. I got bored with it.

However I carried on with some portrait photography…

And my landscapes

However…the easier things got the less interested I became.

And now everyone on YouTube is an expert…

I’ll start watching a video and usually after 5-10 minutes I’ll switch it off as I’m not learning anything,

Maybe I need to learn more!?

Every Cloud

If any of you have been remotely interested in my boring life you’ll know that my ex wife decided I was surplus to requirements in May 2021. Long story short, I was forced to move out of the house I’d paid a mortgage for for 18 years. Despite selling a house I wholly owned to buy the house we lived in. So total mortgage payments of 30 years…anyway. That’s clever lawyers and my naivety for you…fast forward

I had to move into rented accommodation. In Adlington. So I went from having a house, assets, security, a future to…

One pay cheque away from homelessness.

Oh, and I have to pay £100’s of maintenance for the privilege. (We have a son).

I went into a mental state I’ve never been in before. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks the whole caboodle. I was literally paralysed by depression and anxiety.

I’d spend as much time as I could in bed. Just trying to shut down my brain. And I’ll admit it…I had suicidal thoughts. Just thinking, if this gets any worse, if the hole gets any deeper, if the dark gets any blacker, what are my options?

I received an email from my ex last week that ended with “Thank God we’re not together” which got me thinking…

I idolised my family, adored them, was totally devoted…I was deceiving myself. Our realities were totally different. Our goals were totally different.

Therefore in my eyes my mental state was based not in a truism, but a construct.

Time to move on…

So…today, instead of spending all day in bed like I have done every weekend since my wife, son and dog left me…

I dusted myself down. Got my coat on. Picked up a camera. And went for a local walk…

I’ve had to rent a property in Adlington near Chorley. I didn’t realise how beautiful the area was.

The Leeds Liverpool canal is literally on my doorstep!

So…I’m moving on. Slowly.

It’ll take me a while to get used to not having an intimate family after 21 years.

My daughter who lives in Sunderland is supporting me. She’s an Angel.

But I’ll move on. The depression will ease. The panic attacks will cease.

There is a future.

I’ve been paralysed metaphorically and mentally. I won’t let anyone do that to me again.

You have a job. You’re not you’re job.

You have a partner. You’re not you’re partner.

Be careful who you trust.

I have a maxim. DTA Don’t Trust Anyone. Seems a bit harsh. Well…

Panic attack – heart rate 118 lying in bed!

Life must go on. And don’t forget…

180 seconds

Some of you will I know I’m going through a divorce and have had to move out of the matrimonial home. I’d been moving stuff piecemeal (what I could get into the car) for weeks. From Bolton to Adlington, about 10 miles. One Saturday a few weeks back I was driving back from Adlington to Bolton on the A675. It was raining and dark. I noticed something on the road that looked like a massive piece of aluminium…as I got closer I realised it was a scooter on its side…

I slammed on…put the hazards on…at the same time traffic in the opposite direction was approaching…I flashed and flashed then got out of my car and jumped in front of the fallen scooter and waived my arms…

A lovely man coming in the opposite direction slammed on and put his hazards on.

I then rang 999 and asked for the ambulance and police.

I was asked by the emergency services a lot of questions. Were they conscious, was there any blood, did they have a pulse etc. I’m no medical professional so I tried to find out as much as I could. I went to the person and kept asking “you ok buddy? You ok buddy?” Nothing…I was literally sh*ting my pants when…

The person took a massive inhale of breath and grabbed my hand….fuck me, brilliant…

She hung on and on and on…(it turned out she was a young girl – she had a lot of biker gear on, plus helmet, it was dark etc.)

And I just thought…I’ve got you now…just hang on…

Shortly after an ambulance tech and the police showed up…

As far as I can ascertain the young lady was on the way to see her boyfriend when she came off her scooter.

Never under estimated 180 seconds of holding hands. Sometimes that’s all you have…

I still cry about it today. I thought I’d met a dead person. And motorists from either side were shouting at me to let them through.

What has happened to humanity?

The only kind person was the person in the car coming in the opposite direction he said to me “You’re a good man” and I simply thought…”who wouldn’t do this?”

Adventures Of A Wedding Photographer

Disclaimer: Any photographs displayed are not representative of any of the ‘stories’

They’re simply for illustrative purposes…

Mother of the bride “Make me look beautiful”

Me “It’s a camera not a wand” 😂😂😂

Bride (4’6” about 15st – 210 lbs) “You’ve made me look fat”

I’ve not been your dietician for the past 30 years!

Guest “Have you photographed weddings before?”

“No I usually work for the local morgue photographing cadavers, but it’s my day off today…”

“What side does the Grooms family sit on?”

“Whatever the Bride says…”

Was once photographing a wedding in Liverpool when the Bride and her mother started arguing about her choice of groom. They’d been together 12 years and had two children! It came to fisticuffs. I left….

Plenty of more tales for another day…

I’m a loner but never lonely

I was born in Sunderland. Saturday 7th July 1962. I lived in my grandparents house in Cooper Street until I was 1.

Then we moved to Southwick in Sunderland. Cato Square. Don’t even think it exists anymore.

At about 9 years old we moved to Barmston in Washington. During that time Washington really was a New Town! Lots of green space between it and Sunderland. No Nissan getting in the way!

I used to go out exploring at weekends and all school holidays. It was a fantastic time. I used to explore the area between Barmston and what was Sunderland Airport (now Nissan).

There were 3 main areas if I recall.

Barmston Pond.

Some ‘Pill Box’

And ‘The Black Forest’.

When Sunderland air show was on I’d lie on the pill box and watch the planes.

If I felt brave I’d venture into the Black Forest but mostly…

I’d lie on my back on a mound near Barmston Pond and just watch and listen to the skylarks. All day, every day. I loved it…

Words…

I went to a pretty poor school when I lived in Washington Tyne and Wear. Washington Comp. A mixture of old buildings, 1960’s constructions and Pre Fabs. I wasn’t that interested in an education if I’m honest. I managed to leave in 1978 with two GCSE’s. Achieved a C in both Maths and English.

Over the next forty odd years I’ve developed an interest in words. I have Chambers Dictionary on my phone. If I come across a word I don’t understand I bookmark it…

I’d love to send an email that included all these bookmarked words!

We all have untapped potential

At 21 I was about 9st 11lbs. Started doing Karate with Sensei Alan Gallagher – in the same class was a guy called Wayne. Literally built like the proverbial brick house…

Me…thinking I was Bruce Lee…

I wanted to understand his ‘secrets’ of his muscle and size…”weights” he said…so onto my mam’s catalogue I went and ordered some York weights….and I trained and trained and trained. Eventually I moved to Bolton from Washington and joined a ‘commercial’ gym….and trained and trained…

You can create your body and your mind. You are your only limit…

Alan showed me – calm – persistence – character…

A year ago today…

I can’t believe it…back in 1988 I moved to Bolton…was looking for a gym to train in. Found a gym called Physiques ran by Charlie Buchanan (Google him) – I loved it. Was my touchstone. It went through various ownerships…and closed down a year today…I miss it terribly. It was no modern gym. Old school. Just the way I like it…friendly, familiar, functional..,

Over 33 years at the same gym…

I miss it terribly

There’s something about seeing that curtain closing…

When I was a child. I had many maternal and paternal uncles and aunts.

Over the years some of them died. The ‘Cooke’s’ which I’d like to concentrate on this blog have a particular interest . My dads family.

My Aunts Marg and Lil used to take more interest in myself and my twin sister more than my parents to be honest. They’d take us all over on Sundays. They were spinsters who lived in the same house they were born in . Cooper Street, Roker, Sunderland.

And there was a brother – Anthony – he never married. And lived in the same house. My uncle Tony.

Marg and Lil looked after him…

I remember playing squash with him at Crowtree Leisure Centre a lifetime ago…

Once I got into my teens (say 15-16) we never really got each other although I used to keep in touch.

When I got married in 2000, Marg, Lil and Tony were guests. I didn’t see much more of them until two things happened. My ‘peer’ cousin Colin died at 40, then his father died a few years later…

Tony died recently…I attended his funeral ‘virtually’ via a webcast – it reinforced to me how short and fickle life is…

Two minutes ago I was having chicken dinner in his house…

Now the curtains are closing on his coffin…