End of Season Interview with Ray Girling

Ray Girling with his collection of trophies from this season
Ray Girling with his collection of trophies from this season

The faint smell of silver polish hung in the air in the Dingle Centre as all of Mid-Cheshire Camera Club’s silverware had been corralled and polished in readiness to be handed to its new temporary owner. The Committee, ready on the top table, presented their reports and the reign of our out-going Chairman – Ian Whiston - was fitfully applauded. Ian has had a fantastic three years at the helm and we thank him for his time, effort and continued support throughout his term of office.

With the formalities over and the balance sheet agreed, it was time for food and the presentation of awards. The club is made up of all sorts of photographers at different levels but whose collective contribution is important. One such photographer regularly stands out at our AGMs due to the amount of silverware he continues to win and that member is Ray Girling.

I thought it is about time that I asked Ray for some of his insights as to why his imagery is so good and appealing to a large audience.

When did you first start taking pictures?
I first took up photography in school at the age of about fourteen as part of art lessons, where I incidentally I met my wife Susan, so the standing joke is that we meet in the Darkroom. So, I have been in and out of Photography for about 45 years.

What was your first camera?
My first camera was a Cosina CT1 and the first serious camera was a Canon A1 both were 35mm Film. Since moving into the digital world, I now use a Canon 5D Mk111 and my go-to lens is a 24-105. I do have other lenses but 80% of my pictures are with this combination.

When did you join MCCC?
I joined Mid Cheshire Camera club in 1979, and was also the committee then!
At the time I had a darkroom at home and processed and printed both black & white and colour pictures and also manipulated images adding elements so nothing is new. I was fairly successful in competitions, and also had a few pictures printed in Amateur Photographer magazine. Once the children came along the darkroom went and the Photography stopped. I rejoined MCCC again in 2011 and started to learn about digital photography.

Who or What inspires your photography?
I don't really follow any Photographers but do admire some Vivian Maier, early works of Martin Parr and of course Dianne Owen. When I have an idea or task to do such as the Theme competition, I write anything that comes to me on a post-it note by my computer, this can sometimes be in the middle of the night. It is good to sketch out the picture you want to create especially if it is going to be a composite and then go out and photograph the elements.
Visiting Art Galleries and Photograph exhibitions is a good trigger for ideas, don't copy but let the pictures inspire something of your own.

Tell us about your Post Processing workflow?
You have to have a good sharp, well-exposed image even before any processing, but post-processing can make or break an image. Processing can definitely improve a fairly dull plain image and take it to another level. I use Photoshop CS5 for all my images.

What advice would you give to someone starting in photography?
If had to give any advice to anyone starting photography it would be don't get too wrapped up in buying equipment. Yes, you do need a certain level of equipment, but spending that new lens money on going to events, sporting fixtures or visiting places will generate more successful images.

Do you have an ethos or standard that you work too?
Not sure how to describe my ethos, I do have a set of morals, I wouldn't photograph someone in distress or make a mockery of anyone I am usually respectful of the people I photograph and try to engage with them even if it's just a smile and a thumbs up. I do like trying to promote Photography when I can.

You have supplied us with some of your images from this year. Can you tell us about them, what you like about them etc.?

I really like the lighting on this picture and the contrast of the grey dress with the skin tones. The pose shows the balance and skill of Alex the Dancer.

Come into my Parlour
Come into my Parlour
The tension is one of the best elements in the picture. I knew as soon as I took the picture that it would make a good study for black and white.

David Martin
David Martin
This is a more personal picture; David teaches me classical guitar and he is a very talented guitarist. I wanted to portray the absorption when he plays, he disappears into the piece and what comes out is remarkable.

Go to Work on an Egg
Go to Work on an Egg
This picture was for a themed competition, I wanted something different to try and make it stand out from the other pictures and thought it was a fun picture to take and show. I didn't have a second chance to take the picture as Susan my wife ate one of the props.

Many thanks Ray for your insight and advice, I think we will all be inspired this summer. The only thing I can add - don't get used to keeping all those trophies!

For more information about the Mid-Cheshire Camera Club visit our website at or come along to a meeting on Wednesday evening at 7.45 for 8pm at the Dingle Recreation Centre, Winsford.