Paul Sanders currently runs Workshops and retreats around the UK exploring mindfulness through the art of photography. The workshops are designed to provide space to notice and connect with the world around you.
Paul began his talk to Ilkley Camera Club provocatively by saying that he had a problem with photographers, he said they often forget what photography is about. Using quotes from legendary photographers like Ansel Adams he said, ” it’s about your vision, your story and your world. It comes down to feeling – what do you feel about the subject you are photographing.
Paul talked about his background in photography which started at around the age of 14 taking photos in his back garden. At school he’d felt discouraged from taking up photography as a job, the careers advisor told him he could either work in a shop, work in a factory or drive a lorry. However, it was a passion that led to work with the Daventry Express, Manchester Evening News and eventually to reach the dizzy heights of picture editor at The Times newspaper in London.
At The Times his role involved reviewing 20,000 pictures a day looking for the most powerful images to include in the publications. He spent very long hours in a challenging work environment which, as he explained, led to a nervous breakdown, “I left in 2011 and needed to save myself”
Paul is now devoting his time to Still , an enterprise which helps people to use photography as a way of finding inner calm and expressing emotions through image making. Paul said, “I started to think about how the images reflect me. It was a way of expressing how I was feeling through my photos. Photography comes from the heart.”
Still encourages photographers to tell their own story rather than those dictated by other people. Paul wanted club members to look for subjects that are close to home where they live, “I enjoy taking photos near where I live, we become blind to where we are. Be proud of where you live”.
“Photography takes you back somewhere, it reminds you of something. Photography can trigger memories”
Taking photos that are unique to you and your own feelings and experiences was an important message in Paul’s talk. “I love shooting in the rain and when many other photographers won’t be out”.
“Although I’m up here talking to you I’m an introvert really, I prefer to be on my own. In fact my photos rarely have people in them”.
On the subject of perfection and recognising human frailty, Paul said, “perfection is false. When we make something perfect it loses its soul”.
If you want to find out more about Paul’s work you can visit discoverstill.com
Two quotes recommended by Paul:
“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” – Ansel Adams
When I looked at things for what they are I was fool enough to persist in my folly and found that each photograph was a mirror of my Self.” – Minor White