Leo Palmer FRPS FPSA GMPSA EFIAP APAGB
Looking back I think I was always interested in photography without doing very much about it. Before WW11 my Grandfather used to process his own prints at home in a large dark cupboard in one of the bedrooms. However by the 1950’s it was full of junk and photography did not seem to be on the agenda. However my interest in this dark cupboard and photography had been ignited.
In the late 1950’s a very early episode of Blue Peter showed how to construct a Pin-hole camera. I spent a number of hours painstakingly building this camera. I was delighted with the final result and the following week Blue Peter were going to show us how to use it with film and processing chemicals. Then disaster struck………I missed the next episode and the camera lived, unused, on a shelf in my bedroom until I moved out 10 years later when I got married.
In the early 1970’s, whilst living at Stocksfield, I made a second attempt to become a photographer by borrowing a number of books from my local library. I’m sad to say they were not a wise choice being full of technical data and graphs. I struggled with them for a week or so then thinking photography was not for me I took up golf.
In 1976 I moved back to Hexham and joined Hexham & District Photographic Society. On my second night I was very fortunate to see Dr Mike Constable ARPS, without doubt one of the most creative photographers of his generation. Before I saw him I thought photographs were a record of a time or place or a family event. He introduced me to the world of creative photography. Within a week I’d set up a darkroom and was printing B/W and colour negatives and creating composite transparencies. All very badly but I had started on the path of studying photography.
Printing became a real passion and studying photography a lifelong quest.
Although I would class myself as, primarily, a Travel photographer I photograph anything and everything. I enjoy photographing people and places, landscape, nature….in fact anything in front of my camera. A lot of my work is “straight” photography, if indeed anything can be described as straight but I do enjoy producing abstract or altered images. At one time this type of image would be achieved through table top techniques such as back projection, multi exposures through masks or darkroom techniques. The advent of digital imaging has made things so much easier. In my opinion digital imaging, along with colour photography itself, is the most significant development in photography in the last 100 years. I feel very privileged to be around to be part of it.
My main “buzz” is the taking and making of pictures, especially printing and passing on knowledge to others. I’ve acted as programme organiser for Hexham PS for over 25 years and find it a very creative exercise. Finding new lectures and creative ideas to involve club members in photography gives me a lot of satisfaction.
For eight years in the 1980’s I carried out the role of NCPF ( Northern Counties Photographic Federation) Competition Secretary. Through this activity I got to know a lot of people from many clubs and handled thousands of prints.
I’m always working on photographic projects and find it an excellent way of producing new work. In the early 1980’s I started entering International exhibitions and have exhibited continuously since then. They have provided me with the motivation to strive to capture new images with a difference. My old friend and mentor Myles Audas once told me that if one of his images was accepted in any exhibition he never entered it again. My approach is a little more relaxed…..four acceptances and mine are “put to bed.”
Originality is the key to success in most things and photography is no exception. My rules are to never copy and avoid the tripod marks…….if it’s been done before then why bother?
Travel and photography, in my opinion, go hand in glove so in the late 1970’s I started working on a project to capture the land, people and culture of Greece. My efforts were rewarded in 1985 with a Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society.
In 1987 I joined the Photographic Society of America, in September 2006 I was awarded a Fellowship of the Society.
Since the early 1980’s I have advised people on panel submissions for RPS (Royal Photographic Society) distinctions and since the year 2000 acted as an assessor on firstly the Licentiateship and then the Travel Associateship/Fellowship panels. In January 2008 I was elected Chair of the Licentiateship panel. In January 2012 I accepted the position of Chair of the Travel Associateship and Fellowship panel.
I have studied photography seriously for over 30 years and digital imaging for 15 years and continue to do both. If ever I thought I had “arrived” or reached any sort of “standard” I would pack in because what I would have reached was a plateau and would then probably be incapable of learning new things……I hope this never happens.
In September 2015 I was honoured to be awarded the Fenton Medal and Honorary Life Membership of the Royal Photographic Society. Established in 1980 and named after Roger Fenton, one of the Society's founding members the Fenton Medal is awarded for outstanding contribution to the work of the Society.
The pleasure I get from taking and making pictures, especially printing, has if anything increased over the years, long may it continue.
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