Photography and Wiltshire People First
Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre together with The National Trust and Wiltshire People First (a group for adults with learning disabilities) produced a new photography project related to the Lacock Unlocked Project. Members of Wiltshire People First were shown how to use DSLR cameras by a professional photographer, Jamie McDine, in the photographic village of Lacock. The project was held over three workshops which covered various topics from portrait photography to the techniques Henry Fox Talbot used to produce his photographs.
The first workshop included a talk by Roger Watson, curator of the Fox Talbot Museum. He spent time with the group explaining all about William Henry Fox Talbot and his early developments with photography. This included showing the group a replica of the camera obscura which Fox Talbot had invented, and explained how Fox Talbot’s hard work eventually led him to produce the negative image which became so important in the success of photography. The final part of the first day was spent back in the Manger Barn, where the members got into pairs and learned how to hold and use a digital SLR camera and how to take portrait photographs of each other.
The second workshop involved using the darkroom next to the Manger Barn, and learning how to use the photography techniques developed by William Henry Fox Talbot. The members of Wiltshire People First used various interesting leafs and flowers, found in the Lacock Abbey grounds, with the chemicals and techniques of Henry Fox Talbot in the darkroom.
The third workshop was a chance for the members of Wiltshire People First to put what they had learnt into action. Splitting into groups of two or three we went back to the abbey grounds or the village to take photographs using all the techniques and hints that Jamie had provided over the previous two weeks. The weather was good enough to be able to get some lovely pictures of the sun creeping through trees, some beautiful shots of Lacock Abbey itself and good close-ups of flowers, among other things. These pictures, as well as a few from the other two days of the workshops, will be displayed in the exhibition. They show just how much each member has learnt and improved in just a short space of time.
The project came to a conclusion with an exhibition in the manger barn, Lacock. Each member chose three photographs they had taken to be exhibited for the general public to see. Over 80 visitors viewed the exhibition and the enthusiasm showed by the members of Wiltshire People First at the exhibition and throughout the whole project was fantastic.
The project fitted with Lacock Unlocked perfectly as it allowed us to work with a wider community of people and having Lacock as the venue was great as we could all imagine ourselves in the shoes of William Henry Fox Talbot, a pioneer in photography who owned Lacock Abbey in the 19th century and developed the first negative image actually inside the abbey itself.