The first step in convincing others is to convince yourself.

That, Dear Reader, might be where I’m going wrong as I’ve never really been able to convince myself. Of anything. This will come as a surprise to anyone who thinks they know me, and no surprise at all to those who do.

Despite working in such a visible field as public relations, doing all that stakeholder engagement stuff, being formerly Chair CIPR Yorkshire & Lincolnshire, even being MC at Leeds United/Carnegie Ladies FC games… I’m just not that great with people, as a former colleague put it last year.

But it goes with the territory, so I put on what passes for a smile and dive in. I have, however, lost count of the number of social events where I wander round like a spare part, looking for a conversation to join in with. Why would anyone want to listen to anything I ever say?

This, of course, reached its nadir last November. A job interview where I aced the 45-minute written paper but fell to bits in the 30-minute panel interview. One-to-one interviews, fine. Panels… nah.

Quite why this should be so I knoweth not, but suspect it’s due to a childhood being one of the two the darkest people in the class. Once you know there’s an insult coming from so-called friends it makes one more reticent to join in. Even today I have an ability to selectively not hear muttered remarks on the street. It’s not exactly misanthropy, but my hell is other people.


What I think happens is that our natural, youthful inquisitiveness gradually gives way to second-guessing everything. And then, like me, you over-prepare so much you can’t properly react to a differently-phrased interview question.

What made me think of all of this was the three volumes of You And Your Camera I rescued from my mum’s a few years back, and which I have been re-reading. I properly got into photography about 40 years ago, buying my first single-lens reflex camera – a Zenit TTL – in around 1981. Nowadays I have a Nikon D90 Digital SLR… which I didn’t use at all in 2019. What a waste.

Back in the 1980s I was shooting on 35mm negative or transparency film. Set the film speed, shutter speed, aperture, focus and click. And hope, because although you could see what was going to be committed to film (it being an SLR) there was no depth of field preview on the Zenit that I can recall. You had to trust that you’d got your settings correct, and that you remembered that a higher aperture number let in more light. Or is it less? I still can’t remember.

These days you turn the dial to ‘A’ and let the camera software work everything out. You don’t even need to focus, just press the button and you’re done.

Anyway: one of the not-quite resolutions I made this year was to use the DSLR camera more. Walk around the centre of Leeds, perhaps, and do some snaps. Or take the much-hoped-for holiday and take the camera with me. I’ve done it before: look at the featured image above, or these two.

Part of that is having the confidence to turn the dial to ‘M’ and choose all of the settings myself.

The other part is having the confidence to go out and take the photos at all, ignoring any odd looks and comments…