Adrian Ashurst has been passionate about photography for over 40 years. In this article he reflects on some of the interesting experiences he has enjoyed over the years.
While on holiday in the Isle of Man in August 1973, I witnessed a tragic event at the Summerland leisure complex that was situated on the Douglas promenade. Fifty two people died in the horrific fire and one of my photographs of the incident was used by BBC and ITN News channels.
I became interested in photo journalism and in the 1980’s I undertook a personal project to photograph my ‘Sporting Heroes.’ Nikon UK agreed to loan me photographic equipment and I photographed a number of famous characters including Sir Matt Busby, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Geoff Boycott, Frank Bruno, Willie Carson, Barry Sheene, Nick Faldo, Ian Botham, Mike Hailwood and the Oxford boat crew. I have also had the pleasure of photographing the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final, an England international hockey match and American Football Chicago Bears versus Miami Dolphins, all at the original Wembley Stadium.
In addition I attended the Queens Tennis Club photographing players such as Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and John Lloyd prior to the Andy Murray
era. I have photographed the Grand National twice and the British Motorcycle Grand Prix at Silverstone and the TT Races in the Isle of Man several times.
Upon completion of the ‘Sporting Heroes’ project I was given a shared exhibition to showcase all my black and white photographs alongside Heather Angel at the Barbican centre in London and Nikon’s UK London headquarters entitled In the Eyes of Nikon.
In the 1980’s I spent three years as the president of Salford Photographic Society, a position which gave me the opportunity to share my passion for photography with other serious amateur photographers. During this time I judged many an inter camera club competition and presented talks at many camera clubs throughout the North West.
One of my favourite photographers was the late Norman Parkinson, the iconic fashion and royal photographer. I met and photographed him in Manchester, shortly before he died when he was on location in the city centre.
Great photographers possess personal confidence and the ability to work quickly but professionally, always putting their subjects at ease.
In order to gain much needed photographic experience I worked on a voluntary basis for a local newspaper. During this time I attended various functions featuring the HRH Queen, Prince Charles, Princess Ann, Lady Diana and Sarah Ferguson.
Seeing my photographs published in local newspapers and magazines always gives me a great deal of satisfaction and encourages me to keep improving whenever I can. I have used Nikon and Canon using 35mm film and digital cameras and lenses.
Whenever people ask me about purchasing photographic equipment, I always endeavour to provide the same answer: “Buy what equipment you can afford, and learn how to use the equipment and lenses.”
You will only discover the true pleasure of photography by taking lots of photographs. Today most people have a camera built into their smart mobile phone but there is a limit to what you can achieve. I would advise beginners to join a local camera club or photographic society to learn and share your photographs with like-minded serious amateur photographers.
You may choose to undertake a photographic course at a local college to improve your knowledge but remember it’s only by taking photographs you’ll improve.
Set yourself a mini photographic project that may last one week or a month but compare your results. You will be amazed how much you improve your photography.