Jill Howe

The BPS Interview 

Jill Howe

22nd May 2017

 What is/was your full time occupation?
I started work as a Photographic Assistant in 1976. I did that job for 5 years and then married and started a family. Whilst raising the family I taught myself to type and found a job and spent 20 years working in education. I gave that job up and currently I work in a garden centre.

When did you first become interested in photography?
When I left school I did a college Art & Design course based around carpet designs (I was in Kidderminster). Part of the course was a 6 month section on photography.

Is there a photographer that inspired and influenced you and you would have liked to have been able to spend a day with?
I admire the work of Ansel Adams. I particularly like his monochrome landscape pictures.

Is there one photograph by anyone in the past that you especially admire?
I have a small colour photograph of Johnny Rotten taken around 1976. The photographer has captured him looking down low at the camera which was very clever as it increases the menace in his eyes.

What was your first camera and how did you come to buy it?
My first camera was a Kodak Instamatic bought for me by my parents for a birthday. It was followed by a Russian Zenit ‘E’ SLR which I kept for many years. It had a light meter built in but it wasn’t TTL metering. I used this at college.

Which camera have you owned that you have a special affection for?
My all time favourite was a Canon 350D. It was my first big camera with two or three lenses. I bought it all second hand and had some great results.

What is your current camera(s) and lens(es) set up and how long have you had it?
I now have a Canon 550D and I love it to bits. Again, it wasn’t new and I have owned it for 2 years. It isn’t too heavy and I have 4 or 5 lenses for it.

What is your typical kit set up for a day out?
I have a small back pack containing a 28-135mm (left on all the time), 10-22mm, 18-55mm (kit lens not used much) and a 60mm Macro lens. The bag also contains a remote shutter release and spare cards and batteries. I have three tripods and a monopod but I rarely use them. Fortunately, I have steady hands.

What camera would you currently like to own if it was possible?
A small but expensive top of the range Leica with the best 50mm lens.

Do you find it difficult to resist the temptation to buy the latest equipment?
No. I like what I know and buy second hand generally.

Do you have a particular number of genres that you favour and concentrate on?
Horses first followed by flowers and plants, landscapes, seascapes, architecture and portraits. 

Is there just one favourite photograph that you have taken which you are really proud of and why?
Yes, actually two. A fairly recent female punk portrait that was shown at the Artrix Centre last year. The other is of a windsurfer at Tenby.  

I like the Green Punk because I always wanted to have my hair like that but it just wasn’t an option and I think the total green just suits the punk image. 

Tenby Windsurfer – I like it because it reminds me of my favorite beach and I think the light is nice. The surfer came into shot by accident but finishes it off nicely.

Have there been any amusing or memorable incidents when taking photographs?Yes, when I was in Bakewell with my husband. There was a shallow river by the footpath with lots of Trout. In order to get in close, I had to lie down flat on the footpath with the tourist crowds stepping over me. My husband was mortified and pretended not to know me. But I got a fab picture of a trout.

Is there a difficult image that you would still like to capture?
I would like to capture a horse galloping on a beach with all four legs off the ground.

What drives you to enter competitions?
I like people to see my work and to get feedback.

Did anyone help and influence you on the way to attaining your goals?
My husband is very supportive in many ways including carrying my gear and pointing out opportunities that I may have missed.

Are there any tips you can pass on to members considering starting on the path to competitions?
Try, try and try again. Be true to yourself and don’t get upset about adverse comments from judges. Don’t give up. 

What computer, monitor and editing software do you use?
HP tower PC, Samsung monitor, Lightroom (I don’t use it much) and Picassa which I have used and liked for 15 years or so. 

Do you do your own printing, if so what printer do you use?
I do some of my own printing up to A4 size on my Epson Stylus SX400. For larger images I, like many, use DS Colour Labs.

What was the best picture you failed to get and why?
My husband and I were on a hill top and an old US Dakota airplane flew over very low and I could have got a great shot but I didn’t have my camera with me.

If you were a professional photographer for a day, who/what and where would you like to photograph?
I would have to go back in time to get pictures of the Sex Pistols on stage and back stage.

What do people say about photography that makes your hackles rise?
People who state that you can’t be any good in photography unless you have Photoshop and/or Lightroom.

What piece of photographic wisdom would you like to share with BPS members?
Get in close, then get closer.

Do you have a photographic philosophy that keeps you going?
I ignore criticism and do my own thing and I’m happy.