Big Speaker Event 2015 – What An Evening

Friday evening saw many months of planning come together in aid of one glorious evening of landscape photography, my Big Speaker Event 2015. Since going full time as a landscape photographer last year, it has been a dream of mine to tick certain boxes on my list, one of them to create an evening where I recruit the services of a couple of top quality landscape photographers to come along to present a lecture each showcasing their work while accompanying stories give their images some meaning and life.

Big Speaker Event 2015, Greenbank Lecture Theatre, UCLan, Preston
The theatre is filling up at the Big Speaker Event 2015, Greenbank Lecture Theatre, UCLan, Preston

I chose two such photographers. The first one is the renown David Clapp for I have admired his work for some time and he came across as being a genuine, happy, entertaining guy who loves photography when I met him back in May at a Canon roadshow in Calumet in Manchester. David works for Canon on various assignments and promotions and as a workshop leader for Charlie Waite‘s Light and Land. David also works with Getty in the commercial photography market. The second photographer that I really wanted to attend was none other than Lake District based Mark Littlejohn. Mark needs no introduction as his reputation for producing outstanding landscape images speaks for itself and none more so than when he won the Take-a-View’s Landscape Photographer of the Year competition last year. We were all set for a great evening’s entertainment.

The doors opened at 7pm, the bar was stocked and the ladies ready to serve, Michael Ryan and Stuart Holmes from fotoVUE Publishing (the photography location guide books that I am an official retailer for) came along to man their display stand which had their Lake District and North Wales books present as well as my A4 Lake District and Scotland 2016 calendars. Stuart is the author of the Lake District book and it was great to have those who attended able to speak directly to the author of the book that they were purchasing. Trade was brisk and everyone was happy. Andy, a good friend of mine was selling raffle tickets for an excellent range of prizes that were up for grabs including the first prize of a half day workshop with Mark Littlejohn in the Lake District, second prize of an originally A3 mounted print from David Clapp, which looked stunning and the third prize consisting of both books (Lake District and North Wales) courtesy of fotoVUE, the Big Speaker Event 2015 co-sponsors along with the Facebook landscape photography group Landscape Locations.

fotoVUE Outdoor Photography, Melvin Nicholson at the Big Speaker Event 2015, Preston
fotoVUE Outdoor Photography, Melvin Nicholson at the Big Speaker Event 2015, Preston
fotoVUE, Stuart Holmes, Michael Ryan, Big Speaker Event 2015, Preston
fotoVUE Outdoor Photography (L to R) Stuart Holmes, Melvin Nicholson, Michael Ryan Big Speaker Event 2015

Mark kicked off the evening with a presentation of his work from the Lake District. His ability to be able to produce stunning, atmospheric images of the woodlands in and around Ullswater and Brotherswater never fails to amaze me. I find that it takes a very special skill to capture order from chaos and Mark manages it brilliantly but it was his thought provoking take on competitions themselves that had me and others giving their own photography some thought. Shoot for yourself, not for others was Mark’s general feeling, despite his obvious success in winning the biggest landscape photography competition in the UK last year. His view was that you should always head out and shoot for yourself, and above all enjoy what you do. Do not get caught up in the whole ‘I must shoot to win competitions’ and the social media life of wanting to attract as many likes and comments as possible while using them to gauge just how good your work is but to do as you please and others will either enjoy what you produce or they won’t. Never fail to remember why you started shooting with a camera in the first place.

David on the other hand is a different kind of photographer. He shoots a lot of commercial images for Getty, who he has a long standing relationship with but the images he showed were outstanding. In particular the images of the lavender fields in Provence and the French castles. Some top quality work indeed but David also talked about his experience in picking up a film camera for the first time recently and attempting to learn the art in capturing top quality images using this format and the difficulties in doing so. David talked about the latest Canon EOS M series compact camera and how this latest piece of equipment has transformed his photography. The crop factor of the camera allows for very long focal lengths when bolting on a 100-400mm lens which in turn allows David to get that much closer to his subject while retaining excellent image quality.

David sees me eyeing up his film camera
David sees me eyeing up his film camera
David Clapp with the Canon EOS M Series camera
David Clapp with the Canon EOS M Series camera
David Clapp looking other worldly
David Clapp looking other worldly
Aurora over Kirkjufell, David Clapp
Aurora over Kirkjufell, David Clapp

As the evening drew to a close, the 80 or so people who turned up to listen to David and Mark appeared to enjoy the evening and no lecture evening is ever complete until the raffle is drawn. Thankfully my good friend Tony dashed out to buy some more raffle ticket books as we had sold out in the first fifteen minutes of opening and his quick thinking allowed everyone to participate which pleased me immensely as the proceeds are going to the Keswick Mountain Rescue Team in the Lake District. These guys volunteer their free time to help those who are injured, lost or stranded on the mountains and hills in and around Keswick. They do an amazing job, often in terrible and dangerous weather conditions and I can only hope that I do not end up having to use them one day.

The total amount raised from the sale of raffle tickets was a fantastic £168 so a HUGE thank you from me for supporting such a worthwhile cause.

Raffle Tickets, Keswick Mountain Rescue Team
Big Speaker Event 2015 chosen charity Keswick Mountain Rescue Team, Lake District – £168 raised

So the first raffle prize of a half day workshop with Mark Littlejohn went to Ian Purves, who sent his young daughter up to meet Mark on stage. Second prize of the A3 mounted print by David Clapp was won by Dave Duxbury and the third prize of the two fotoVUE books was won by Andy McLaughlin.

1st Prize went to Ian Purves (his daughter took to the stage) - Mark Littlejohn 1/2 day workshop
1st Prize went to Ian Purves (his daughter took to the stage) – Mark Littlejohn 1/2 day workshop
2nd Prize went to Dave Duxbury - A3 Mounted Print by David Clapp
2nd Prize went to Dave Duxbury – A3 Mounted Print by David Clapp
3rd Prize went to Andy McLauglin - fotoVUE Lake District & North Wales photo books
3rd Prize went to Andy McLaughlin – fotoVUE Lake District & North Wales photo books
David and Mark decide they want the stage all to themselves
David and Mark decide they want the stage all to themselves
L to R. David Clapp, Melvin Nicholson, Mark Littlejohn
David Clapp, Melvin Nicholson, Mark Littlejohn
Big Speaker Event 2015 draws to a close
Big Speaker Event 2015 sadly draws to a close

All that remained for me to do was to bring the evening to a close and thank everyone for coming along and as the displays were disassembled and packed up in my car and the lecture theatre door finally closed, I looked back on all the hard work, patience and effort that it took to create such an event but I left feeling so pleased that I had brought some happiness to those who enjoyed the experience, safe in the knowledge that I shall do the same next year too.

May I extend a special thank you to the following people for assisting me on the evening itself, without whom the event would not have been possible.

David Clapp & Mark Littlejohn – For providing a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable evening. Thank you gentleman for attending

L&CPU Camera Club Secretaries – To all the Club Secretaries who helped promote the event to their members, thank you very much

Tim and Charlotte Parkin – For promoting the event on their On Landscape website. Much appreciated, thanks guys

Michael Ryan & Stuart Holmes (fotoVUE) – Manning the fotoVUE stand and being co-sponsors of the event

Chris Astley – My Website Developer for managing the sale of the tickets on my website

Mick Rawcliffe – Ticket Sales Desk

Andy Stewart – Raffle Ticket Sales

Tony Higginson – Car Park Duty (and raffle ticket saviour)

Chris Beard – Event exhibition boards disassembly

To all those that bought tickets, supported me and came along for the evening, a genuine heartfelt thank you. I could not have done it without you. Until next year, have a wonderful Christmas, a safe, happy and healthy 2016 and maybe our paths shall cross again.

Best wishes Melvin

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