Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENT ....

I used to run at school, any distance, as long as I was outside.  Hurdles, 200m, 400m, cross country, well to be honest, anything that involved sports and I wasn't too bad even if I say so myself.

School sports days were something that used to give me butterflies, excited knots in my tummy, although I am aware that for most sports day was a thing to be loathed and dreaded.  It was like an extra Christmas Day or Birthday.

As in life there is always someone that is better than you, and there was one  particular girl, Alison  (she moved like a gazelle) that I tussled with, more in my mind than in reality, all through my school years.  Some she won, some I won. 

Then one day I went to a schools county competition, held a Watford Harriers ground and I was entered in 60m Hurdles.... 

My mindset as I lined up against five other girls was one of youthful arrogance.  "I am gonna win this... no sweat !!!"  Well I didn't, I can't even remember where I placed, all I can remember is the crushing sense of defeat, of failure,  of not being able to comprehend that my best just wasn't good enough. 

I took myself of behind the stands and cried, our teacher consoled and patted but I never did run in another competition.. EVER !!

I don't think I entered any other kinds of competitions through school, and I most certainly haven't throughout my adult life, until now. 

Photography was my hobby but photography became my way of life.

I have been a Fieldsports and Dog photographer full time for the last 4 years and I can't think of anything that I would rather do. 

I can't remember when I last thought " I don't want to go to work" .. even when it is bitterly cold and lashing with rain, clients will tell you I am still smiling. 

At home my hobby is photography, landcapes and family, street photography and even the odd wedding, but things change and I was asked to do more and more lifestyle work and received praise for my landscapes. 

So at the back end of 2015 I joined The Guild of Photographers.  Like in life, people,  and in this case photographers, all have different opinions on who is and who isn't "recognisable" or "fair" or "the right type" or ..... on and on. 

For me The Guild are a great bunch.  They are willing to help, offer some wonderful mentoring opportunities with the aim of becoming a Qualified Member or more. 

But for someone that hasn't entered anything competitive in nearly 30 years, The Image of the Month Competition was where I had to start. 

So I entered and I entered at the wrong time of year and ended up having to wait two months for the results.  A month is long enough believe me but two .. by the time the results were due I had those butterflies, but not the excited kind.  

I did ok.  I achieved a Bronze Bar, some graded's and some UN-gradeds... but overall I felt happy with the result.

Then I became a little slack and didn't enter again for a long while but I had this niggling urge to have another go.  So I entered again.   Now my first submissions were a mixed bag or landscapes and portraits, not a dog to be seen.  I was worried that if I entered what I thought was a great dog image and it came away ungraded that it would shake my confidence and I would worry about work ... 

I bit the bullet ... I entered some wedding images and some dog images.  Bingo, Bronze for my favourite wedding shot and bronze for a "work" shot of a dog retrieving. 

And now I have the bug... I have been quietly entering over the last few months and last month I actually felt a sense of personal achievement. 

I achieved a Bronze Bar for some  landcape images, bronze bars for my "work" images and I received a Silver Bar for a Fine Art style shot of a Clumber Spaniel.  Recognition across my genres. 

I have learnt that the only person I need to compete with is myself.  That I need to be a fair judge and gently critical.

Of course it is amazing to receive recognition from your peers, and to have the support and input from professional friends and colleagues. 


My next step .. if I say it out loud, I have to do it, is to aim for my Guild Qualified Member Status .... 











Thursday, 2 March 2017

SPLIT IN TWO ...

Well the time has come to give both my "selves" an identity. 

So from this point forward we have  Caroline Dell, the "Fieldsports and Rural Life Photographer" for Workingline Images and Caroline Dell, the "Weddings and Lifestyle Photographer". 

The websites can be found here : 

www.workinglineimages.co.uk

www.carolinedell.co.uk


Thursday, 18 February 2016

WHAT'S IN THE BAG .....

I spend most of my working life out in the field, on shoots, at hunts, trials, tests and gundog training classes and such like, and carrying kit around has taken some refining. 

Instinct would say the less gear you take the better, shove it in your pockets and away we go. 

Over the last few years I have learnt that "things" (including expensive memory cards and batteries) stowed in a pocket can inadvertently be lost when retrieving a cleaning cloth or sweetie.  Likewise there is nothing worse than having spent a day in the field without food or drink and then arriving back at the car and KNOWING you put the keys in THAT pocket .. but where are they now.  No one is going to help you go back and find them, believe me I know !!

WHAT BAG AND WHAT GOES IN IT ....


  • My mini-kit bag is in fact a small game bag which I bought from the lovely Helen at Hi Lost. My first "game bag" to take to  gundog training sessions when the lovely Bob and I started on our adventure, we have now progressed to a full size game bag and this little beauty has a new role in life ..Caro's Kit Bag, and what I can't get in it doesn't need to be coming to work.
  • The most important for me is some "snap" ... a piece of fruit, a chocolate bar and a drink, I can get a sarnie in as well if it's going to be a long day.   In the beginning I used to shove a mars bar in my coat along with everything else, bar the drink because it was just too bulky,  and by the end of the day was exhaused and de-hyrdated... not good on either count especially if you have a long drive home ahead of you. Don't forgo the sustenance ... if you are on form, your photography is on form. 
  • Hankies Hankies everywhere and never one when you need it.   I have clear filters over my lenses and am happy to clean with a nice soft, clean cotton cloth (this is my choice you need to read up and do what's right for you and your kit) Hankies are perfeect for this and I have plenty, including the odd lucky one.  I always make sure that I have at least two for the camera and one for my nose.
  • My Goodie Bag... this little bag was made and given to me by a very lovely friend, Caroline Griffin-Woods ( and for those of you that know her, if you ask her nicely I'm sure she will start a production line of these).   In my goodie bag are my memory cards and spare batteries. Empty cards are in the bag, they go into camera and then once full go into my inside jacket pocket.  This is to make sure I don't inadvertently re-use a card.
  • Along with all the above are my KEYS, stored in the inside zipper pocket of the bag.  
  • A 5.00 note and a pound coin in case of emergencies.
  • My spare chapstick (the current one is in my jacket)
  • Spare pair of gloves (as per yesterdays blog)

The lovely long strap means I can sling this across me, throw it round the back and have two free hands to work the camera's, knowing that everything is safe.  

Oh and I always pack my bag, bar the snap, the night before.  Nothing worse than rushing like a loon the morning of a shoot and leaving the spare batteries behind.

ON THE LEGS ....

The big question "what waterproofs do you wear ?" .. I hate to be asked this.  We all spend so much money trying to keep ourselves dry that it's scary to recommend anything.  

For me waterproofs have to be hard wearing and keep my dry.  Simple ?? ... NOT SO.  

If you take your dog training, or to a test or trial, or even out beating you tend to be stood up or walking around.  You tend to wear your waterproofs for a few months of the year (hopefully) and then the ground dries up, the season ends  and the waterproofs go away .... but if you are a fieldsports photographer you spend all your time  on your knees in the mud and the filth .. and then when the winter passes you still have your waterproofs on because you are still grovelling around on the edge of lakes (water training and working tests) and just generally getting pretty mucky. 

In my experience, when waterproofs start to leak it tends to be round the knees, so whatever I choose needs to be properly tough.

I have yet to find the perfect pair... and anyone who reads this that has found a pair that do stand up, please let me know.   My current pair are Sealand Crieff Over Trousers, very very kindly donated to my cause by a very good friend who found them too long.  



They have lasted me 6 months so far and I haven't as yet got wet.  They have full length side zips, two zips to each leg which means you can, if you need to, put them on without taking your wellies or boots of first.  They have a belt loop at the top, although if you need a belt to hold up whatever you are wearing underneath and then a belt for these it gets a bit bulky and poppers around the bottom to keep your zips from unzipping.

They are thick with extra padding to mid thigh, mine have been in the wash a good dozen or so times and are are still keeping me dry. 

They will, however, be far too hot come the spring.  I am currently  looking for either a pair of over trousers that are light weight but resilient enough to stand up to the job or a pair of trousers that are splash / light shower proof, comfy fit (so preferably not a mens cut) and also tough enough to last.

Whatever they are, they need to last more than a season.  Watch this space and I will let you know if I manage to find some.





Wednesday, 17 February 2016

ESSENTIALS

The whole winter seems to have been dictated by grey skies and rain.   Weather that found me sat in a coffee shop with a very large and very "not on the diet plan" Hot Chocolate DELUXE  whilst I waited for the spare tyre to be re-attached to the truck after a spot of serious off roading at my last Field Trial of the season.

So whilst I swirled my chocolate flakes and marshmallows round in the milk chocolate goo, I thought about how far my photography has come in the last two years and what I have learnt along the way.

Not the "rule of thirds" or the "ISO triangle" but mistakes I've made, lessons I have learnt and things that I absolutely do not leave home without.

So in no particular order.....

SKIN !!


I don't enjoying wearing gloves... full stop.  I don't like wearing them when I wash up, when I am doing the gardening or when I am working the camera.  This does however cause me some issues.

Last year I worked through the winter without even thinking about it, and one particular day my hands were so cold and wet  that I ended up operating the camera virtually on muscle memory, I had to trust that my fingers knew what they were doing !!!. By the time I finished my hands were scarlett and frozen almost to the point of Chilblains.

The result of having such cold and wet hands was very sore, dry and chapped skin, which eventually split and became extremely painful eventually hindering the use of the camera.  I was left with no alternative but to have gloves in the pocket and shove them on as soon as there was a lull in shooting.

So this year I swore this wouldn't happen.  So far so good... I have found a very lovely and hard working hand cream with hemp, which i use in the evenings, the mornings and before I put my "gloves" on !!

The gloves I refer to are surgical gloves.  Strong enough to handle a day in the field, they keep my hands dry, waterproof but fine enough for me to use the camera.  If my hands start to get very cold, I can slip a pair of fingerless gloves over the top.

So, waterproof, lightweight gloves and hand cream are the first two items on my list ... followed very closely by Lip Balm.  

In fact I will turn the car round and head back home to collect a pot of vaseline or a Chapstick if I forget to put it in the camera bag.  There is nothing worse than the irritating, itchy soreness caused by chapped lips which, without the balms, are only soothed by that childlike licking which just serves to make them even worse.

Now I am just waiting for someone to design a lanyard that will carry my Chapstick next to my whistle !!!