Early Years

My first published image, taken in 1976
My first published image, taken in 1976

I grew up taking regular family holidays which usually revolved around visiting a preserved railway somewhere. This was so my Dad, Geoffrey King, could indulge his love of steam engines and take photos of them. He regularly gets his work published in Heritage railway magazines, and authored two books in the early 1970’s, with the late Mike Fox, on the Industrial Steam engines of the Midlands.

A Taste Of Fame

During one of these holidays to see the North York Moors Railway in 1976 (aged 7), I asked Dad if I could use one of his cameras to take a picture. It was a fully manual 35mm compact camera, and so he set the shutter speed, aperture and focus and told me to hit the button “when the train comes under the bridge”. Not only did I do that, putting the train in the perfect part of the frame, I also panned as it moved and got the train sharp and the foreground having a nice bit of movement blur. He was so impressed, he sent the resulting image off to Railway World Magazine, who promptly published it!

My First Cameras

In 1978, my grandfather died and I inherited his Ilford Sportsman 35mm camera. It wasn’t too bad, but I was confused by the dials and to be honest, the optical coating on the lens was deteriorating, so even if I selected the same settings as Dad at any given location, my pictures would always look a bit more fuzzy and muddy than his. Eventually, I asked for a Canon Sureshot Supreme, one of the (then) new generation of automatic 35mm cameras. As soon as I had that, my interest photography really took off. I was getting clear, punchy prints and could concentrate one getting my composition and subjects right at last.

Upgrading The Gear

For three years, I got on well with the compact camera, but yearned for a proper SLR. My wish was granted for my 21st Birthday, when I became the proud owner of a Canon EOS650 SLR and a 50mm f/1.8 lens. Having an SLR meant I could really learn about apertures, shutter speeds and depth of field, etc, and I set about learning all I could from books and magazines. Over the years, I’ve gone through a succession of Canon cameras, with the EOS600 and EOS50E film bodies – which I used regularly for colour print, mono and slide films. I also invested in various zoom lenses, which have come and gone. But I’ve still got that original 50mm prime lens and use it regularly with my extension tubes for macro work.

Getting Competitive

And Let Thy Feet... won me a gold medal
And Let Thy Feet... won me a gold medal

As my interest and experience grew, I entered various photographic competitions and Salons, with some success. The most notable was in 2004 when I won a Gold Medal in an International Print Salon in Kranj, Slovenia. And like Dad, I also managed to get a few images published in the odd magazine or book. In 2000, I became an EAF-accredited Judge, and regularly visit local Camera Clubs and Societies to adjudicate their competitions. I find this a very rewarding experience, as it’s frequently an inspiration to see other people’s work and be able to comment on it.

The Leap To Digital

In February 2004, I finally managed to get myself a digital SLR – sticking with Canon and buying an EOS300D. Since then, my photography has taken off in ways I could never imagine. The immediacy of digital, and the ability to delete anything which is below par and not have to pay for development, means that I started to take an interest in Sports photography, particularly Rugby Union. My interest in the game has increased, as has my skill at making interesting photos out of the fast-moving action. You will see a few of my rugby pictures on this site, but they mainly reside on my other website,

Looking Ahead

Having got to grips with digital workflow, and upgraded to an even better D-SLR, Canon’s EOS30D, I am really enjoying making pictures whenever and wherever I can. In 2008 I took up a new challenge, to take at least one photo every day. I am posting the results to a blog, My Year In Pictures.

Photography by Caroline Mockett ARPS