Today, I am excited to share a conversation with Debby Slater. Debby was born by the sea on the south west coast of England and grew up by the sea on the west coast of Australia. She has spent the last 22 years living in London with her partner Les and they are working on a plan to move back to the coast…
How did you get into photography?
Photographs have always fascinated me, with the stories they tell and the moments in time that they capture. I love looking through old family albums and have a huge collection of prints of my own, spanning the last 30+ years. I’ve owned a camera since I was given my first Kodak Instamatic at the age of 13, but I’m a bit of a latecomer insofar as making it a bigger part of my life. I wanted to do something creative that would occupy my free time away from what can sometimes be a rather stressful day job (I’m a PA in a London law firm). I purchased my first DSLR camera 5 years ago (my trusty Nikon D40, which I’ve only recently upgraded to a D700) and then signed myself up to a 3 month, distance learning, Open University photography course. It was whilst on this course that I discovered Flickr and I was hooked. At around the same time, I stumbled upon Susannah Conway’s blog and her beautiful Polaroid images. I was totally inspired and after much research and bidding on eBay, I became the proud owner of an SX-70, followed by a Holga, Lomo Lubitel 166B and Lomo LC-A. The photography bug had bitten.
How would you describe your style?
Simple and quite often technically imperfect (I can’t help but break the rules sometimes)! I’m instantly drawn to simplicity in other photographers’ images. I guess it helps to counter-balance the hectic routine during my working life. This question has made me realise that I very rarely include people in my images.
What message do you want to convey in your photographs?
I’m not sure I do convey a message, but I’d like to think my images create a feeling of calm. There really is nothing better than looking at a photograph that can evoke that feeling. It’s a great stress reliever.
Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired on a daily basis by the numerous blogs and photo-sharing websites that I visit – Flickr has definitely been a huge inspiration over the last few years. The encouragement, advice and friendships have been invaluable. It was where I first realised how many talented female photographers there are out there. Places and spaces definitely inspire me – I have to be in the right place for the inspiration to kick in.
What is your favourite thing to photograph?
Without a doubt, if the sea or a beach is in the frame, then I’m happy. The light seems to work it’s magic on the coast and is particularly agreeable with instant film. Being stuck in London isn’t always ideal so we try to escape as much as possible.
Which is your favourite recent photo and what is the story behind it?
I love this photograph of my partner, Les. It was taken during one of our many visits to the Cornish coast in England, whilst walking on our favourite beach. We’d arrived early and the light was just perfect. I used a whole pack of instant film that morning and not a single shot was wasted.
What projects are you planning?
There are so many things I’d like to do – my head spins sometimes, just thinking about it. Once my work/life balance is kicked into shape in the next few years, I may just get around to completing some of them. In the meantime, I just want to progress with my photography – there’s always something new to learn. Although I am hoping that Father Christmas will bring me a Nikon F100 this year, so that I can immerse myself even deeper into film.
What would your superpower be?
That’s easy. I’d create more hours in the day!
Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful images with us, Debby. As someone who also loves the sea and polaroids, I continue to be inspired by Debby’s calming images of the sea. You can see more of her magical work by visiting her blog, her website or her flickr.