30th March 2016 - 'the excitement of wet negatives'

When Pauline Rook, the speaker at the club’s most recent meeting said ‘there’s nothing like the excitement of a set of wet negatives!’, you know that you are listening to a true photographic enthusiast. Pauline described her talk as 20 years of photographic adventures and showed a very impressive portfolio of mainly monochrome images and virtually all taken on film. Her images were fantastic shots of rural living in this part of the world and they provide an extremely useful insight into traditions that in many cases have long disappeared.
After following a five-year portrait course at Dillington and the award of her ARPS,, Pauline was well prepared to chronicle the lifestyles of farmers, cider makers and vets either on her farm or those of her neighbours. Capturing people in their natural environments is Pauline’s preference and this was demonstrated in shots of shop interiors and local characters.
One of the characteristics of her photography is the ability to use available light and with the help of her trusty tripod and cable release she has been able to put her subjects at ease by continuing their conversation whilst carrying on shooting. ‘Never take the last six shots on your film’ she advocated because if you have those left that will be the time when your sitter relaxes the most.
Although now fully converted to digital photography, Pauline’s prints showed her considerable darkroom skills especially in getting the most out of poorly lit interiors. There were some wonderful historic records taken early in the day on the River Parratt of the eel fishers and also of Bridgwater Fair.
Pauline has also collaborated on several books including ‘Working Women of Somerset’ and undertaken many photographic commissions. She has produced work on the Blackdown Hills, now in the museum of rural England, Reading and is exhibiting in this year’s Somerset Arts Week.
This was an excellent talk made even more so by Pauline’s great sense of humour and ability to relate to her audience. If you want to see more of her work, then her website can be viewed at