Photo courtesy of Eileen Rafferty
Hi, I’m Gilly Walker and I’m a fine art photographer who teaches and writes about photography.
Although I’m very happy to show people how to find their way around a camera and how to use particular settings, my view has always been that developing our ability to see the world around us in a fresh and exciting way is far more important than technical perfection. Recently I’ve begun to move away from straightforward ‘how-to’ classes and towards a deeper, more thoughtful, and more intuitive approach. The usual term for this is ‘contemplative photography’ but I’ve also heard it called ‘slow photography’ and ‘inner path photography’. There’s also a branch of photography called Miksang which shares a similar approach but is a little bit more purist and meditation-based – my own approach is looser and more wide-ranging, and I call it ‘discovering your inner photographer’.
My purpose, when I’m teaching, is to help people get excited about the possibilities that photography offers, and to give them the confidence to explore these, and also to learn how to express themselves through photography and find their personal photographic voice. To that end, I’m in the process of developing new classes and workshops that will concentrate on these things.
I won’t bombard you with posts! – I aim to post a fairly thoughtful, in-depth, article on my blog now and again, supplemented by one or two single image posts or shorter pieces every week. I’m always interested in guest posts and collaborations, so if you have any ideas for these do get in touch.
A POTTED – AND VERY SELECTIVE – BIOGRAPHY
I was born and grew up in Scotland, but moved to south-east England when I was 30. I lived in Canterbury for almost 25 years, but am now based in Newark in Nottinghamshire due to my husband’s job relocation. I think Newark is a bit of a hidden gem – it’s a very attractive small market town with much to recommend it and I’m still exploring what it has to offer.
I’m very curious, love to learn, and have studied a wide variety of things and held many different jobs. I’m not even going to try and cover everything, but here’s a selection. I managed to acquire a BSc and an MA in Philosophy, a preliminary teaching certificate, and assorted other pieces of paper in a variety of subjects, including an out-of-date First Aid certificate and an incomplete Access to Art and Design course. I also studied photography with the Open College of the Arts for many years. In no particular order, I’ve worked as a hypnotherapist, a Reiki healer and trainer, college IT tutor, library assistant, bookseller, charity fundraiser, colour and style consultant, and marriage registrar. I’ve taught philosophy, Reiki, Feng Shui, IT, and for the last seven years, photography.
I run my own workshops and classes and offer personal tuition, ghost-write articles for a popular London photo tour company, and teach for the WEA.
ABOUT MY WORK
I’ve always been drawn to the abstract and ambiguous rather than the representational, and many of the photographers I most admire were painters first before they picked up a camera and have a way of seeing that is more particular to the artist than to the documentarian.
My photography projects almost always start out unplanned. They typically develop like this: I go out shooting with nothing in particular in mind, just allowing my eye to be caught by anything that catches it. Sooner or later – and it could be that day, or it might be weeks or months later – I begin to see a theme emerging, perhaps a way of looking, or subjects that have something in common, or that express a feeling. Then I take the theme and run with it, looking more actively for subject matter that fits within it, eventually producing a body of work that hopefully hangs together coherently.
I like to photograph things not for what they are, but for what else they are (to paraphrase Minor White). I like the dreamy, the ambiguous, the moody, the spontaneous, the colourful, and the symbolic, and I like to find these in very ordinary places where they often go unnoticed. I don’t own much gear and I’m not very interested in the equipment – the technology is a means to an end and while I do think that much is gained from knowing how to use it, ultimately the power of an image comes from the photographer’s ability to see freshly and clearly.
There are many, many photographers whose work inspires me but here are a few, in no special order, who particularly speak to me. It’s quite a mixed bag, and some are much better known than others, but all of them have elements in their work that I aspire to. I guarantee you can spend a happy few hours looking at their work.
Franci Van der vyver