Guest Blogger - Paul Beattie

Hi all,

Sorry for the delay in getting this guest blogger thang going but I have been mental busy and also making the most of time with my son. Last summer before High School so am savouring every minute ... All change from here on in.

Anyway, I had an idea of letting local people I work with etc to blog on my site. So in the next few months there should be one a week. Anything from photographers to crafters to personal trainers. I got them all :D

So here is my friend and fellow togger Paul Beatties story on how he got started in the world of togging....


RIGHT, RIGHT!!! This is a "how I got started" kinda thing:

In 1996, my path crossed with Stuart's. Travelling the wintery highways of this fine country – or rather the Coleraine to Garvagh line on a March night – I hit Stuart. Actually, he hit me, but unfortunately for him, I was cocooned in my beloved, restored early 80s Mini, and Stuart was very, very drunk. He wore white socks. I know this, because I knocked him out of his shoes. His shoes were what hit the windscreen of the car travelling close behind.

The next day, I was in Garvagh, and I took an almighty panic attack - heart thumping, vision blurring, breath catching. I thought I was going to die in Garvagh; possibly the most unglamorous location to pop your clogs in the world. Well, I didn’t die, but I did get unwell. When the mind isn’t right, the body follows suit. ‘Take up a hobby,’ my then-girlfriend said. So I did. I borrowed her father’s Yashica FR-II, a film camera, and off I went a-snapping.

Boy, but I was crap. Exposure wrong; composition terrible; focus out; but I persisted. The occasional shot which worked meant praise followed, and I persevered. And things changed. I don’t mean that in some “I remember three TV channels” way. This is within 19 years. In 1994 I saw my first digital camera, and the future beckoned. It’s like that moment when you try explaining cassettes to children. We were still using an internet browser called Mosaic for the (very few) websites that existed. An image on one of these sites probably took 15 seconds to download. No Flash player, no MP3, no ‘web-designers’ then. Don’t even think about video. But: “It’ll get faster”, our lecturer told us. “It’ll all come together.”

Film gave way to digital and thank goodness. I have no patience for processing times. I couldn’t shoot the way I do now, using film. I dislike chemicals getting thrown down a sink and into the water system. At a wedding, I can shoot 600 images across the day, and produce a record of the full day with around 300 of them. Could you be bothered with anything else? Today, I do a mix of documentary, live music, weddings, and the odd commercial job. I maintain my own website, even if it is “off-the-shelf”. I occasionally sell prints – to the United States, no less. If someone had said what was coming, and that I could get paid to do this stuff when I was 16, the path behind me now would have been much different. But then, I wouldn’t have met Stuart, would I?

So Stuart, I raise my glass to you where ever you are now. I know I broke your legs, your arm, your collarbone and your pelvis, and you wrote off my Mini, but the cops found me innocent, you got very little in the courts, and I – well, I discovered photography. Cheers mate.

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