Today I’m continuing on with my stories of connection, this time from the medieval town of Shrewsbury. If you look at a map of England, Shrewsbury might seem a bit out of the way place for a stop between Yorkshire and London. However when your primary purpose for a trip is to meet people, then it all starts to make sense. I had someone to meet, so I was headed that way. And that someone was Gilly Walker.
Gilly and I have been in contact online for several years. I first ran into her on Flickr while I was in Italy, then we shared comments on blogs and for a short time we were both Mortal Muses together. I’ve always loved her photography, her thoughts and philosophy, and – bonus – she teaches photography too. We seemed to have much in common, so she was on my list of connections this trip to England. She’s recently moved north, not far from Liverpool, so we had a bit of a struggle to figure out the best way to meet. Should she come to London? Should we meet in the middle? Finally she just invited me to come stay at her house, and then we could visit Shrewsbury the next day. Perfect! She apologized that it was a two hour train ride, but I assured her, after traveling 12 hours to get to England, a two hour train ride was no problem. That’s why I was there!
So from Hebden Bridge it was off to Hooton, to stay the night with Gilly and her husband, and then on to Shrewsbury the next day together. All of the images in this post are from our day in Shrewsbury.
I have to admit, on the surface it seems a bit strange to visit and stay with someone you’ve never met face-to-face. Here Gilly was inviting me into her home, and I was staying there, without knowing more about each other than our photography and writing. But I’ve always found that when you meet and develop a relationship with someone online, one that is built over time and around a common interest, that relationship is real and your gut feel about a person is accurate. So while we were both a bit nervous to meet in person, I had a feeling it would go just fine. And it did! Better than fine, we talked non-stop and had a lovely visit.
I knew Gilly was knowledgeable about photography, but I hadn’t realized the depth of her study until I visited her home. Staying in her home office, I got to peruse her bookshelves which had an amazing array of books on photography and creativity. I was in heaven. She had many of the same books I had, but also many, many more I had never even heard about. It was exciting to hear about her creative journey and what has influenced her along the way. I wanted to know which books were her favorites, and why. (Since I knew you all would want to know too, I asked her to write a guest post sharing a few. Come back tomorrow to read her recommendations!)
The next morning we were off to Shrewsbury, known for its medieval architecture. The day started off partly sunny, transitioned to mostly cloudy and then the rains settled in. It was interesting to wander the tight alleyways and see the mix of timber-frame and brick buildings side by side. It is always shocking as an American to see buildings that have existed for such a long time. It’s hard to fathom. Our idea of “antique” is on a different scale. The mix of the modern and historic gave this city a wonderful visual feel.
I’ve found that when you spend some time with another photographer, you get to know more about them through what catches their eye. Their work makes more sense to you, because you see how their heart and soul comes through. Ask anyone who’s gone on a photowalk with me and they will tell you: If there is a scooter sighting I will stop, with enthusiasm, to capture it. For Gilly, she has a series called “Fallen Things” and she stopped often to capture things fallen on the ground. I couldn’t help but capture one or two as well, and here’s my homage to Gilly’s Fallen Things series.
As I write this I start to wonder, if you spend time learning about another photographer’s point of view, does that affect you too? Did the time with Gilly get me started with looking down on the ground? Did that influence my current mobile photography series, As They Fell? Probably. As I talked about yesterday, the time spend with another in creative connection influences us in ways we don’t always realize. Everything we see and everyone we connect with becomes input that informs our output. Choosing our connections is as important as choosing our input.
For me, Gilly is a great source of inspiration. I am grateful to have have this connection with her. Thank you, Gilly, for a lovely day!