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News: 16 December 2017


Volunteer Profile - Norman Wigg
Norman Wigg is one of hundreds of volunteer photographers taking part in the Images of England project. He has taken over 1,000 photographs for the project covering Kent, Surrey, West Sussex, Herefordshire and Devon. Here, he shares some of his experiences and thoughts about the Images of England.

Otford Pond, Kent.  IoE number: 446068 © Norman Wigg I have been involved in the Images of England project since July 2000. My background is as an architect with a particular interest in historic buildings, going back at least 30 years. In the last few years of my official career, until my retirement in June 1997, I worked as a part time Conservation Officer, which brought me into daily contact with all kinds of historic buildings. Another long-term interest of mine has been photography, starting with my first camera when I was 14. My favourite subjects have tended to be landscapes and buildings in landscapes.
It goes without saying that to get a good photograph one is very much at the mercy of the weather and the light. What is a "good" photograph in this project? I would say that it is one which displays, to the greatest possible extent, the architectural character of the building as recorded in the written description. This isn't necessarily the same as a photograph taken purely with the object of producing a satisfying image. If the setting of the building is important, then the photograph should attempt to place the building in that setting to give, at least, a glimpse of its surroundings. St Michael's Church, Ducas, Herfordshire IoE number: 355323 © Norman Wigg
Coal Tax Post, Epsom, Surrey. IoE number: 407874 © Norman Wigg

Finding your subjects is often the first challenge. If you are working in an area you know very well this shouldn't, in theory, represent too much of a problem. Even then there are surprises. My four years as a part time Conservation Officer in Epsom and Ewell, Surrey, should have meant that I knew the whereabouts of most listed buildings in the district. Well, I didn't. When I became involved in Images of England, for example, I had only seen about four or five of the fifteen Coal Tax Posts in the Borough. These strange monuments to an enterprising government tax on coal being brought into London are often on obscure tracks which were once important trade routes but now may be no more than overgrown footpaths.

One does need to carefully read the listing description before deciding which angle to photograph the building from. I try to get a photograph which shows something of the three dimensional form of the building that is preferably from an angle rather than straight on to the main fa�ade. In practice, the luxury of being able to choose an "ideal" viewpoint is not very common. Often, the only possible shot is a cramped view, particularly where photographing in a narrow urban street.

Taking photographs for the Images of England project is fascinating but can be both mentally and physically tiring. Since many country pubs are listed this can be a good opportunity to sample a (small) taste of their wares while photographing.

Our wonderful historic listed buildings do need protection and loving care if this priceless heritage is to be passed on intact for future generations to look at and learn from. The small part I have so far played in the Images of England project will, I like to think, assist in this laudable aim.

To view more of Norman's photographs click here.
The Plough Inn, Leigh, Surrey IoE number: 290251 © Norman Wigg


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