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Interview with Preston’s prolific photographer

Posted on - 22nd October, 2009 - 12:06pm | Author - | Posted in - Opinion, People, Photos

Preston Marina at SunsetIf you haven’t heard of Flickr, it’s a photo sharing website and allows people to post their photos onto the web. Within it there is a Preston group, where people can post photos of the city. The group has just over 9,000 photos in it and one man has taken hundreds, if not thousands of them, Tony Worrall.

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He never goes anywhere without a camera, and can often be found snapping shots of Preston from every angle – but he’s a man who usually lets his camera to the talking. He’s 40ish, lives in Ashton and agreed to answer some questions about his photography and love of capturing Preston through the lens.

Blog Preston: When did you first get into photography?

Tony Worrall: Well, I’ve been into taking pictures most of my life but it has only been in the last few years I have taken it seriously as a hobby. I was never into the old film type cameras but with digital and the ability to process your own shots on computer I got into it more and more. The biggest incentive was when I started compiling the ‘ultimate Preston trivia’ site as a personal project and decided I needed photos to accompany the text (elements of this can be seen in the Preston Group profile). This led to a massive collection of Preston photos that I needed to both save somewhere and display to show the World and that led to Flickr, possibly the best photo management site out there. The Flickr ‘bug’ got me and I now find myself travelling around the country looking for interesting things to shoot and display. I don’t consider myself arty but I do try and make the best composition. Out of 50 photos I take in a day I will probably only use a couple on Flickr.

BP: You’ve just achieved 500,00 views on your Flickr account, how does it feel?

TW: Hmm, it’s not all about getting the ‘hits’ although it can be addictive trying to reach the next milestone, getting as many views as you can. There is a lot of friendly rivalry on the site. However, when you consider some of the most popular photos get up to 20,000 views each I’ve a long way to go. Getting half a million views (its up to 550,00 now) is not bad though and I appreciate people stopping to look, especially when they make great comments. I’ve also been lucky to meet like minded contacts from all over the World.

BP: You take lots of photos of Preston, why does it make such a good subject?

TW: Preston is my home town, that’s why it features so highly and as I explained the photos were intended to accompany my Preston website. Also, Preston is a relatively unknown place to most people and I enjoy highlighting all it’s nooks and crannies. I would really like and try help highlight the city as much as possible, especially coming up to the 2012 Guild. I feel the current political leadership in the city lacks foresight and imagination. Tithebarn is becoming a joke and the future looks uncertain.

I believe the people of Preston need to take more control. That’s one of the reason I am enthusiastic about your Blog Preston site. In my own little way I hope I am contributing.

BP: Where is your favorite place in Preston to take photos?

TW: A quick glance at my Flickr pages will show the Marina (old Preston Docks) in Ashton is my main hunting ground in the City. It’s a very photogenic place, especially at sunset. Areas around the UCLan are great and Avenham Park is always worth a look with the ever changing seasons. The Bus Station is also another fave. Love it or loath it the building is iconic and would be a great loss (hopefully it will be listed – it’s currently undergoing approval yet again). There’s hardly a street I’ve not been down in Preston but things change so quickly I have to try and keep an eye on developments.

BP: Is there anywhere in Preston you don’t feel you’ve taken enough photo’s of?

TW: There are a few places I would love to shoot. Mostly inside. The old Central Police Station, the Town Hall, the old Odeon cinema in the city centre and the abandoned St Jospeh’s Orphanage off Fishergate. Entire lost histories of old Preston are within those walls waiting to be recorded and revealed before they are lost forever.

BP: Do you always keep a camera with you?

TW: I never go out without my compact digital camera. You never know when it will come in useful. Often I just come across stuff worth shooting by accident. I also need a small camera that can be safely hidden away out of sight. Some of the dodgy areas, backstreet’s and alleyways I tend to take pictures in (not just Preston) I don’t want to advertise my kit. If I did I may not keep it very long. I have wandered into some dangerous locations more than once and almost regretted it.

BP: Tell us a bit more about the Preston Flickr Group, why did you set it up? How long has it been running?

TW: I’m not the founder of the Preston Group but I did take over admin duties last year in an attempt to brighten it up and ‘push’ it a bit more. I was a little disappointed with the lack of discussion going on compared to other City Groups such as Manchester or Bristol for example. Flickr Meet Ups (similar to the Preston Blogger Meets) seem to occur regularly around the country accept in our area. I am still hopeful that the first Flickr Meet Up will occur sometime soon. I haven’t really had as much quality time to spend on the Group as I would like but plan to do more in the future. Up to recently there only seemed to be a couple of dedicated Preston ‘snappers’ but I have noticed more people getting involved. Good for them. In fact I encourage anyone with pictures of Preston to join Flickr and post them up to make the Preston Group the biggest archive of Preston photography (the only condition is that the pictures should be of a certain quality).The site is also a great focus for ‘ex pat’ Prestonians to see more of Preston.

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