Vicky's winning image, © Vicky Fry
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a jack of all trades. I was a lawyer for 20 years, starting off in private practice and then moving to the Courts’ Service in 1992 as a legal adviser to the magistrates specialising in criminal and family law. As a result of the death of my father in 2001, I was able to re-evaluate my life and decided to retire from the law and start my own business. I am now self-employed and run three separate businesses; gardening, dressage training/ judging and photography. So I can work at my three main interests: nature, horses and photography. I live in South East London with my husband and three rescued greyhounds/lurchers.
How did you get into photography?
I met my husband in Turkey in 1992. He is a keen photographer and showed me his transparencies (these were the days of film). From a photography cynic (as an art enthusiast, I’d always rather looked down on photography), I was inspired by his images and wanted to try the same myself. He gave me an all singing and dancing Samsung compact camera that Christmas, and I moved from there to a Minolta SLR and finally to a Canon digital, which I still use today.
I soon realised that I couldn’t take the sort of image I wanted to take and enrolled on a 3-year home study course with Amateur Photography magazine which I graduated from in 2005 with honours. This was a real learning curve, particularly as it was still in the days of film, so you had to wait for results and write down details of how the shot was taken! My tutor was Chris Gatum, to whom I shall be eternally grateful for his encouragement and suggestion I try macro work.
Professionally, I sell stock images and do some commercial/charity/event photography. I also produce calendars and greetings cards.
What inspired you to take the images that won TPOTY 'Reason To Travel'?
I am particularly drawn to graphic images and always try to look for lines and shapes. A balloon flight is a magical experience, but quite difficult to express photographically. My object was to get a shot which showed the juxtaposition of daily life and the ancient ruins in Egypt, whilst making it clear that the shot was taken from a balloon.
There were several balloon flights this day and the challenge was to try to get another balloon in the image which had to work compositionally. Some balloons which drifted into shot were not quite right - boring in colour or red (too much of a cliche). This blue balloon appeared at the right time and I waited for it to hopefully drift into the right position in the frame, which, happily, it did.
It was interesting that, when I posted reportage versions on ePz, this image was not a members’ favourite shot: they mostly went for another image, which I felt was OK but nothing special. Perhaps the moral is to stick with one's gut feeling and not be too swayed by public opinion!
When and where were the images taken?
Upper Nile, Egypt. Balloon flights run from Luxor every morning and drift over Queen’s Valley. This was taken before the uprising in Egypt but I hope the flights are still running as I would love to repeat the experience.
What draws you to landscape photography?
As you will see from my uploads and my website, I don’t actually consider myself a landscape photographer. In fact, I’ve always been a bit prejudiced against landscape photography - the cliched image of ‘rocks in foreground, mountains behind, slow shutter speed’ is my personal nightmare- but there are loads of superb landscape photographers out there who I wouldn’t and couldn’t compete with.
Having said that, I’m not drawn to any particular genre, although I do have a leaning towards the natural world. Then again, it depends what the definition of landscape photography is: one of my personal favourite photographers is Chris Friel, who I guess is considered a landscape photographer. So, for me, it’s not the subject matter, it’s what can be seen and captured of that subject. It’s all about expressing an emotion.
Can you tell us a bit about how you get your ideas for shots and how you go about taking them when an opportunity arises?
Oh gosh, this is a difficult one to answer. I always have loads of ideas for images and projects in my head, some inspired by other people’s images or paintings/literature/film, but ideas are one thing and putting them into action are another.
Sometimes the opportunity arises through luck but, mostly, you make your own luck. For landscape/flower/wildlife images, the weather and time of day are crucial (assuming you’re taking outdoor images). So I try to maximise my chances of luck by choosing the right day and time.
For flower photography, I like to look through a macro lens and experiment with different compositions and camera settings. Assuming the weather is right, there is a golden hour for most outdoor photography shots which occurs just after sunrise and during sundown. For flower photography, a still day is essential with diffused light. So I try to avoid bright, sunny days and stick to the beginning and end of the day, a formula which fits in well with a family/working life!
But there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes my better images have actually been taken at midday. I look at other people’s images and try to think how they could have been taken differently. It’s very easy to think you won’t take a certain shot because it’s been done so many times, but, if you can get a different take on it, you may have a winner. I’m also a keen but novice wildlife photographer and have learnt that knowledge of your subject plus timing and patience are more important than any photographic expertise.
Find out more about Vicky's work in her ePHOTOzine Portfolio
, and on her website, vickyfry.com