Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham talks about her experiences as a member of Corley and Fillongley Photographic Club

Amanda’s first interests in photography


I’ve always had an interest in photography, as a teenager I remember having a decent compact superzoom camera, mainly for holiday images.

My photography journey before joining the club


About 10 years ago I decided I wanted to take my photography a bit more seriously, and was gifted an entry-level mirrorless camera with two kit lenses.

I did some self-learning via YouTube etc, and also signed myself up for a couple of “Get Off Auto” type courses.

I’ve gradually worked my way up to better camera bodies and lenses.

I’ve always mainly been interested in wildlife photography, then about 3 years ago I decided to set myself the challenge of learning about taking pictures of people, and studio lighting.

3 years on I decided I wanted a new challenge, and that a camera club could provide the right environment for what I felt I wanted next.


My Photographic Style, Genres and themes


My main interest has always been wildlife, with a specific emphasis on UK native species. I’ve always enjoyed spending time in nature, and my pursuit of photography in this environment has allowed me a great way to share my love of native flora and fauna with others.

More recently as I’ve developed my skills for portrait photography, I’ve found myself most drawn to action subjects such as dance and sport.

Part of my love of nature photography is to show off the many wonderful species and habitats that we have here in the UK.

So much of wildlife photography concentrates on overseas environments;

I want to encourage people to get more pleasure out of the birds and animals we have already within the UK.

My Equipment


Since moving to interchangeable lens systems, I’ve always shot with Olympus (now OM System) cameras and lenses.

I was attracted to this brand due to their smaller size and lighter weight, as due to health issues, I’d really struggle to use larger, heavier systems for an extended period. I also particularly like Olympus as one of their main areas is wildlife, and they also have a fantastic support network.

I ensure that whenever I am out shooting, my priority is simply to enjoy the wildlife and where I am, the photography is secondary, meaning any good shots are a bonus, rather than the expectation.

My significance photo

‘Kestrel on Signpost’

The first image that has really gained any outside attention/acclaim. It recently won a Wildlife Trust competition (the first external competition I’ve entered!) which meant that it was on display at a local reserve for a month.

This is an image I’ve been really proud of, and it’s been great to see it getting some extra attention.


My greatest challenges

How do I find the time?

I  lack flexible time available due to work commitments,

Post Processing Grrr

I struggle with post-processing. I find this side of photography frustrating and slow, due to a lack of ability- it’s an area I’m hoping to concentrate on improving soon.

I know when I get too comfortable

I find that if I become too comfortable in any part of life, I need to do something to push or challenge myself. As mentioned previously, I was very uncomfortable with taking images of people, so I deliberately put myself in situations to learn this skill, and not enjoy it.

I always like to hear what other people are doing, and try to learn from them. I have a scientific background, which leads to a (at times problematic!) need to always ask questions.



My club – Corley and Fillongley

The Club Challenged me

The club has challenged me to consider other areas/types of photography which I’m not as familiar with.

I enjoy using the talks and workshops as a springboard to encourage me to go and independently learn more about a new area.

\I’m not very driven by competition, but the urge to take part and the set subjects have also been a big encouragement for me to try new things.


My Pride with being exhibited

Since joining the club I’ve had my photos exhibited at a gallery in the club exhibition for the very first time- this was a big confidence boost, and really good to be able to take friends and family to visit.

Why Corley and Fillongley?

Wide range of activities

I was attracted to Corley and Fillongley due to the wide range of different subjects and activities covered.

I’ve previously briefly attended some other clubs, but they were too competition-focused or not hands-on enough for my tastes.

Active, practical and educational

I wanted a club that is active, practical and educational, and also that has activities all year round.

Corley and Fillongley Fitting the bill

 I was looking a larger-than-average number of female members, and members using the same camera system as me.

Corley and Fillongley seemed to fit the bill.

How the Club helps

I benefit by learning from others, in terms of new ideas and techniques (never shot Ultra-Violet before joining the club for example).

In addition, I find that it can boost my own confidence in my existing skills, as I’m sometimes able to offer help and advice to others, which in turn reinforces what I know.

My advice to others

I heard a quote early on in my photography journey; ‘the best camera is the one that you’ve got with you’!

This has helped me feel that I can always get a shot, even if it’s not the very best. It’s also helped me embrace everything as an opportunity.

Not to be limited by your equipment- we don’t all have to have the best that there is and the basic lessons around composition and how to make a good image apply to all cameras.

Future Goals

As mentioned previously, I’m very keen now to try to bring my post-processing up to a good level.

I’ve been feeling that this has let down some of my better images in recent years, and whilst I now think that I’ve grasped Lightroom editing at a basic level, I need to work on improving my Photoshop skills to get the most out of my images.

This will then enable me to do better in competitions, and potentially enter some external competitions.

Balancing photography with the rest of life.

Work gets in the way

My work is the biggest obstacle to my photography, as it’s very time-consuming and not very flexible.

I’ve learnt to accept this (most of the time!), and I find photography so beneficial to my well-being and mental health that I’m able to make it a priority when I’ve got any spare time.

My love of theatre

One of my other long-term interests has been theatre, and I believe this has influenced my interest in dance and movement photography.

I also feel that this has improved my ability to see a ‘scene’ and identify key moments that have the most interest when shown in a still image.