Winner of the Community Category – RAP Applause photo competition
2020 – the year that just does not know when to stop flinging surprises around. Be honest, if you had known what 2020 had in store, how different would your New Year’s resolutions have been? My hope in those final hours of 2019 was that the news cycle might contain something other than Brexit, and that 2020 would provide an opportunity to get out and take some pictures.
Always good to be careful what you wish for.
I think it helps to have something to distract from the day to day stuff. Something that offers, all be it briefly, an escape. For me that means photography. Whether it’s with my Olympus EM10, or more frequently these days with my smart phone, that provides me with moments for thinking about something else. In those moments, the news, is something happening somewhere else. The challenges and trials of modern life are forgotten. Photography brings me into the “moment” and lets me capture and preserve it.
Wandering around, snapping away was always something I enjoyed. It was only with my 50th birthday that it became something more. It became my “grown up” hobby. Something that could replace other hobbies and pastimes less befitting of a middle aged man. So at 50 years old I became the proud owner of a proper camera. Not for me the point and click model, or the intermediate Bridge camera that my wife uses. For me it had to be one of those cameras with lots of buttons, dials and removable lenses. As I said, a proper camera.
So as most men do, I researched the subject endlessly. I googled, I bought books and magazines, I went to shops filled with cameras, and photographers…. and then I bought the one that looked like my hero’s camera. I bought an Olympus Pen – because it most closely resembled the Olympus Trip used by David Bailey in the 1970’s.
Getting the camera was just the beginning. Cameras are just excuses to go out and buy “bits and bobs”. How many lenses, bags and accessories do I really need? The answer is not many, but that misses the point that cameras are really just an excuse for grown men to start collecting again. More expensive than stamps, and more socially acceptable than birds’ eggs, cameras can be a whole new hole into which money can pour.
So there I was. All the gear and no idea! Luckily my proper camera came with a “noddy” mode. A setting that takes care of all those fiddly settings like exposure and aperture. It makes my proper camera as simple to use as…well, as a phone camera. Which prompts the question, why not just use a phone camera? Which I do a lot of the time!
Whatever camera I am using, the next step is to decide on a subject. Of all the photographic styles, street photography is my favourite. That’s not just taking pictures of the yellow lines, or the dodgy parking. Street photography is about capturing real and unposed moments that tell a story. Sometimes they are candid, the subject not realising they have been photographed, others are composed and planned with the subject to convey a sense of time and place.
Robertsbridge has helped me to develop my hobby into something more. Events like the annual Christmas Capers or the Summer Event have meant that my pictures have been published in the Battle Observer and on the RAP website. (It was one of my old Christmas Capers pictures that won the community prize in the recent RAP Applause photo competition.) Local artist Roger Hill encouraged me to exhibit my pictures at his annual Church Rooms Arts and Crafts Exhibition, and at the RobArt two week long exhibition at the Stade Hall in Hastings. All things that I would never have contemplated without his guidance and support.
Art…..it’s a funny old game! I still think I am in the “I don’t know much – but know what I like” creative school. Perhaps the best summary of my artistic journey is the one on my Flickr page. https://www.flickr.com/photos/privatepit/
“Making a living from talking to people, and having fun and enjoying taking pictures. What a shame it’s not the other way round”
Following on from our interview with Oana Bakovic, winner of the Applause Photographic Competition, we are delighted that Kerry Chesney, the owner of the beautiful old Morris Minor who starred in Oana’s winning photograph, has provided us with some background history.
“Our old Morris is actually called Edina (Edy for short!). She was born in 1967 and is completely original, having covered 106,000 miles.
She has had two local owners. We bought her in 1995 from the second of those owners, a gentleman who had been Field Marshall Montgomery’s chauffeur. He had frequently driven Winston Churchill, although I doubt in Edy!
She was great fun and reliable. On the day of our daughters Christening, we tied a big pink ribbon on the front of Edy and we travelled to the Church in her.
When we moved to Robertsbridge, our house took over as it needed complete restoration inside and out. Edy sat at the end of our garden. The children loved playing in her and I am sure they had many make-believe adventures. Our daughter also used her as a reading room.
The children grew up and Edy gradually fell into disrepair and looked very sad. I am passionate about my garden and it made complete sense to plant flowers around and sometimes inside Edy. This cheered her up considerably and created a happy nostalgic installation in the heart of the countryside.
I was astonished to see her in the winning photograph and thrilled to have provided inspiration for Oana’s photography.”
~ Kerry Chesney
An Interview with Oana Baković
You mentioned in your original photo entry email that it had been a long journey to get to Robertsbridge. I know our readers will be intrigued to know more.
Yes, right… So, we are a family of 4, well, 7, if we count our pets.
We have lived in Romania. My partner moved there due to work and I lived with Mum, while my father lives in Croatia (I am half Croatian/half Romanian and my partner Bojan is Serbian). We met in an advertising agency.
Though our life was pretty good, and we had quite a big circle of friends, we finally made the BIG decision to move to the UK.
The reason? We were often visiting Britain, especially before the kids came along, and we simply fell in love with the country, culture and above all, the English humour.
So, in 2016 we landed here and started rebuilding our new life.
Originally, we wanted to settle in Brighton – but it was too big and noisy.
Next stop was Eastbourne. But it proved to be too far from our new jobs in London.
So, we moved closer to Limpsfield and Oxted in Surrey. But it was not our cup of tea.
Finally, we found our HOME in Robertsbridge!
We knew from the beginning that we wanted to find a nice, small, quiet village near the sea, but it took us some time to get everything right.
Funnily enough, we had visited Robertsbridge in May 2016 while visiting some dear friends of ours that live here, but we couldn’t find any houses at that time, so we only moved to Robertsbridge in May 2019.
How long have you enjoyed photography and what got you interested?
I loved photography since I was little, and I was spending my time browsing old family photo-albums. It just fascinated me. Then I got my first camera at 20 and I used to walk the streets of Bucharest and photograph people and buildings. This passion was revived with the birth of my daughter and I don’t think there is a day when I don’t take at least one photo. If there is, then that day is just boring!
I use my phone. We have a camera in the house, but I have my eyes now on a Fuji x100F. I like range-finders as I am always on the look out for powerful moments.
What are your favourite subjects?
I like to capture my family, my environment, and important events.
Do you have a favourite Photographer? And if so, why?
Hmm, I do like Linda McCartney’s work. I feel very close to both her and her life just by looking at her photos. And this is why I think photography is great, because people can feel closer, more understanding of one another.
Do you admire any photographic style?
Yes, if I was to pick one, it is the documentary style photography.
Do you have any other creative pastimes?
I like to create video concepts and design. I am a Digital Marketer, learning to be a UX designer and I am very passionate about all visual arts and creating content that makes a difference through how it looks and what it does.
Have you entered photographic competitions before?
Ha. No. I’ve never had the courage. But now, thanks to this wonderful win, I am working on my next project and I would like to participate in the Life Framer’s competitions.
What do you love about Robertsbridge?
Aaaah. Everything! I love the wild nature, the amazing history, the beautiful old cottages and how it is all arranged so that everywhere you go you can walk into a forest and lose yourself there.
I love the people and especially the fact that everyone gets on with their lives but that there is a respect, kindness, and a sense of community all around.
I love the small, relaxed school and the lovely teachers that are so hard working and are every day inspiring my kids to love learning.
I love that kids are still kids, and here in Heathfield Gardens they still play outside.
I love that I can cycle around and have everything that I need right here.
I love the walks that go around for miles and that every time lead to a small muddy adventure.
I think its position couldn’t be any more perfect; I love the small beautiful Station that leads you to London’s museums & events, or the fact that in just half an hour you can walk by the sea or you can drive around on beautiful country roads and go to see Hastings or Brighton.
This summer we have also discovered Bedgebury.
So, all of this put together makes us feel like this is the place we were looking for, for so long.
Do you go out looking for subjects/scenes to photograph?
Not really, not until now; but I think this is about to change as I would like to take a step forward and really create a living out of this. Think projects, think a small business, and use it to promote things that matter to me. The most likely would be healthy-living and the protection of our environment.
Were you surprised to win?
I never thought I would win. Not in a million years. I was in a meeting with a client when your email hit the Inbox and I almost screamed with pure joy. I am really happy and honoured and I feel empowered to create and do more. So THANK YOU for this amazing opportunity and it might well change the course of my life.
Just to announce that thanks to this, I have finally got the courage to create my own photo studio.
Since we last spoke I have put together with my partner a wee website and luckily the name Robertsbridge Photo Studio was free, so now we are online at www.robertsbridgephotostudio.com.
I am planning some projects for the future and hopefully this is just the beginning of a very beautiful thing.
Thank you Oana and we really look forward to following more of your story!
APPLAUSE RURAL TOURING PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION
2020 just got a whole lot better. At the beginning of July we asked:-
“Do you love photography? Do you love our Robertsbridge community? Would you like to help bring a free theatrical/musical event to Robertsbridge? Yes! Let’s show them how excellent our Robertsbridge Community spirit is and win an Applause show for our Village!”.
And that’s exactly what you did.
Robertsbridge put forward an amazing 275 photographs across the various categories. The RAP Committee would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who put so much effort into this competition. Your wonderful pictures brought together all those great attributes that make our community so very special and unique.
And thanks to all of your fantastic photographs – we won!
The winning entry from all those villages and communities who entered this competition came from our very own Oana Baković – On Top of Robertsbridge.
Oana has won a free Applause event in 2021 for the whole Village. The RAP Committee would like to gift Oana with a Family Membership and 4 tickets to our next Village Hall event or a RAP event of her choice. “Thank you Oana”.
The competition was judged for Applause by professional photographer, Georgina Edwards. “I felt the winning image beautifully captures a wonderfully serene sense of the countryside and I love the nostalgic feeling the picture evokes. It makes me want to follow the arrows, walk the path through the field and go exploring! A really super image.”
And there’s more! We also won the Rural Community category. The winning image is Robertsbridge Christmas Capers by Paul Pitman.
Well done Paul and he wins a £20.00 Waterstones voucher.
In the future we plan to find a way of showcasing all your great entries to this Competition into an event next year. More coming soon on that one. In the meantime, you did our great Village proud and thank you again.
With wishes of health and happiness,
The Robertsbridge Arts Partnership Committee
We are grateful to Rosemary and Tony, proprietors of the Ostrich for their ongoing support and hosting of so many RAP events free of charge. And for allowing the RAP committee to hold its regular meetings at the hotel.
The Ostrich Hotel
Station Road, Robertsbridge
East Sussex TN32 5DG
Phone: 01580 881 737
On hold due to Covid-19.
Where: Robertsbridge Village Hall, Station Road, Robertsbridge
Time: 8pm to 10.30pm (doors open 7.30pm).
Tickets: £8 in advance from Judges Bakery or £10 on the door Children £4 in advance or £5 on the door
What else: Bar, food and comfortable seating! All welcome