Welcome to One Camera One Len’s Photographers Spotlight Series, where we discover other photographers who you may find extremely interesting. They share their love for photography, their stories and a selection of their images. In this article, which is part one of a two part article, Bill Stace looks at the photography compromises you have to take when you get older.
I’m in my late 70’s and have been taking photographs for the last 60+ years (I had my first camera when I was 12). Recently I’ve recognised that I’m no longer as fit as I was and if I want to continue snapping away I have to make some compromises with what I take in the future and the equipment I use. So what led me to this conclusion?
I’ve always enjoyed Wales. When we were younger our holidays were usually spent in North and Mid Wales and in 2007 we moved our home from the Midlands to South Wales, which at the time was a bit of a closed book to us. So we (my wife, Alison, also is a photographer) have had a great time exploring and learning about the area.
But each year we would still like to return to Mid and North Wales and particularly to the area around Llyn Ogwen which is staggering in its beauty.
We were last there a couple of years ago with other members of our camera club. We decided to walk to Llyn Idwal past the well-known Idwal waterfall.
After a couple of hours at the lake we started to make our way back to the car park. Over the years I have developed a balance problem so it now takes me a long time to walk downhill on an uneven surface so I let Alison go ahead at her own pace. Part the way down I was aware of a party of 15/16 years old catching me up skipping from stone to stone with their hands in their pockets. So I moved to one side to let them through. They were followed by their minders who thanked me and one of them said “You’ve done very well to get this far”. A well meant but crushing comment.
But it didn’t end there. After another half mile I came across three lads taking a rest from carrying backpacks as big as them. As I approached them they got up to go and I let them go ahead, but one of them walked with me the remainder of the way to the car park. A very kind thing for him to do, but after what had been said by the other group it brought back the old adage that “you are not what you think you are, you are as you are perceived to be by others” and although I feel 35 I was being seen as a grey haired old man who was struggling.
Then a year later another incident occurred which made me think again. We live not far from the River Wye and the autumn of 2019 was spectacular, so I grabbed my new monopod and went out to photograph.
After an hour or so I suddenly realised I was standing in deep mud a couple of feet away from a fast-flowing river and nobody knew where I was. Fortunately using the monopod as a walking stick gave me leverage to help me to get out of the predicament I had put myself in and I got home shaken but safe, and determined that I really must re-think my photography and what I want out of it.
Shortly after this, the lockdowns started which has given me time to review my equipment and reduce it to a manageable level and to re-think what and where I photograph in the future to ensure my own safety, but at the same time recognising that I now have to make compromises and that I can no longer photograph in the way I have in the past.
The next part of this article details the conclusions I have come to so that I will have safe, and manageable, yet interesting photographing for the foreseeable future.
Call back soon for the second part of this article. I will link to each section once the second part has been uploaded. If you have a story, photos, websites, or anything photography related you want to share, please contact me and we will get you on One Camera One Lens as a contributor article.