Making memories with local photographer Erica Platt
by Nicole Stephenson
At Northern Life we love reader’s contributions whether it’s poems, letters or pictures. All are welcomed. We have an online group called ‘Northern Life Creative’, we’d noticed some breath-taking local landscape snaps and pictures of a cute Sprocker puppy named Mabel being posted to it. Curious, we did our research and realised they were all photographed by Erica Platt, local to Laneshawbridge, Colne. I had the pleasure of inviting Erica in for a brew and chinwag about her story and to showcase a few of her favourite images.
Browsing over Erica’s photographs it’s clear she has an instinct which allows her to make the most effective use of her surroundings, capturing beauty within a mundane moment. She truly encompasses that all important eye for photography. I asked if had ever studied it professionally, she laughed, “I went to college as a teenager and did half of an art and design course. I wanted to do graphic design but they would only let me do it for one hour a week, I didn’t want to do still life drawing and all the rest of it so like a typical teenager because I didn’t get my own way, I said I’d go out and get a job instead!”
I’d presumed Erica had fallen almost instantly into a photography career straight after this but of course, the twists and turns on the path of life are never this simple. Our circumstances alter our courses. Erica explained “When I was out in the big bad wild world, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I ended up looking after children, which I absolutely adored. Eventually, my mum got ill so I had to take care of her instead. I did that for 14 years.”
“SHE DECIDED TO CHANNEL HER EMOTIONS INTO SOMETHING POSITIVE, CONTINUING WITH HER PHOTOGRAPHY, FURTHER EXPANDING HER HOBBY”
Erica’s eyes began to fill as she explained to me how and when photography became a huge part of her life. “To entertain ourselves, we would drive around, take the camera with us and park up somewhere in a position where she could see the view. She could not eat, move or even talk. All she had were her eyes to see. I used to take her up to the Yorkshire Dales where we spent time in my childhood. I would get out of the car, take some photographs, then we would come home and upload them onto the iPad so she could see the rest of the view and my dad could see where we had been.”
I think this is just beautiful, a lovely sentiment and such a creative way to make the best of a very tough situation. Erica was holding back tears, as was I, as she continued “She deteriorated over the years and that’s all we could do. It was the best thing to do in her situation, it was marvellous and I got to spend every day with my mum.”
“HE HAS COAL ON HIS HANDS, THIS MAN WAS DRIVING THE STEAM TRAIN AT RAMSBOTTOM”
Naturally, when Erica’s mum passed away, she really struggled and hit a bout of depression. She would cry a lot. But for me, crying is good. Crying shows we are human, we have a soul and hold true compassion. There are times when life gets tough and we need an outlet, tears however are sometimes simply not enough. This was the case for Erica, so she decided to channel her emotions into something positive, continuing with her photography, further expanding her hobby. With tear glazed eyes she explained “I would literally just go out all day taking pictures, it was the only thing which stopped me thinking about my mum. When I have the camera in my hand, I am in my own little zone.”
Erica’s emotions can be seen on the flipside of the lens, in her images. We may have rambled through the thick greenery of our beautiful northern landscape time and time over, but have we ever really seen it? Do we stand over it with true appreciation and gratitude? I feel like sometimes it is easy to overlook the beauty of something when we are so accustomed to it, as humans we are complacent. When Erica takes to her lens and produces an image of our local scenery something remarkable happens, it’s exquisite, it’s as if she captures it in the way we truly should see it, in all its glory, allure and charm.
Although Erica was born and bred in our local countryside, she never tires of it. “I try and promote the area. I love where I live, and I love the Yorkshire dales because that’s where I grew up.”
She can often be seen out and about and will end up taking pictures of people and their families just by chance, of course she then sends these and hands over the memories she has captured for them to treasure.
It’s no secret that animal worshiper Erica loves to take pictures of her five-month-old puppy, Mabel. Erica jokes “I love animals, I’m a real big animal lover, all shapes and sizes. “I take loads of photographs of animals but not your usual shots, I like to try to make them quirky.” Humorously, Erica recently started a page on Facebook called ‘The adventures of Mabel’ which is a photo library for all the naughty things her Sprocker-Spaniel gets up to. She has her own Instagram page ‘Littlemissmabel22’ if you want to swoon over her adorableness!
“EVERYWHERE I LOOK I CAN SEE A PICTURE”
I asked Erica what the favorite picture she had taken was. “It’s a very strange one. It’s a pair of hands of a train driver. I won a competition with it. He has coal on his hands, this man was driving the steam train at Ramsbottom. The station is preserved as it was back in the day. The trains were coming in and out, it was amazing. My grandad was a miner and my dad a train driver so maybe that’s why I like it so much.”
Erica believes social media groups and pages on Facebook are very helpful and will defend the backlash it often gets as at one point it was her lifeline. She admitted, “I used to put my photographs on Facebook so others could see where me and my mum had been, it was like therapy for me. When she passed away all sorts of people got in contact. People from all over, even my friends that had moved to Australia would comment. They were all absolutely devastated, they just had no words but thanked me for the journey. I still go back and read those now.”
As our chat drew to a close I quizzed Erica for some tips for any budding photographers. “Photography is more about being in the right place at the right time. It is about opportunity more than skill. Everywhere I look I can see a picture. If you’ve got that then you’ve probably got a head start. You don’t even need to have all the gear and fancy equipment either. “iPhone photographs are great. The one that I shot for the Northern Life calendar was taken on my iPhone.”