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News: 16 December 2017


Volunteer Profile - Alan Bradley
Alan Bradley volunteered in 1999 to photograph the listed buildings of County Durham and North Yorkshire. Here he shares how he has contributed to the project and what Images of England means to him.

18th Century deer shelter, Auckland Castle Park, County Durham - IoE Number: 385606 © Mr Alan Bradley LRPS "As a Chartered Engineer my 'day job' allowed me to travel. My toothbrush and passport were always accompanied by a camera. On retiring, after decades of photography for my own pleasure, I decided to do some formal study which resulted in a distinction from the Royal Photographic Society.

My involvement with Images of England all started with a simple notice in the Royal Photographic Society Journal in 1999 asking for volunteers to take photographs for a new English Heritage project. Very soon after showing interest in participating, along with others from the region we were briefed, in the surroundings of an English Heritage Baronial Hall, on the project and what would be required of us, the volunteer photographers.

We were to take just one image of each listed building in England. This is the 'defining image' of the listed building encompassing everything that makes that structure special. Armed with a pack of documents to guide me in my task, I set forth to find the treasured listed buildings which I was assigned to photograph.
Old Town Hall, Darlington, County Durham - IoE Number: 110657 © Mr Alan Bradley LRPS
Church of St Cuthbert and St Mary, Barton, North Yorkshire - IoE Number: 322640 © Mr Alan Bradley LRPS
What has happened since that first briefing session? Well the project has certainly proved to be a puzzle and a challenge.

From the list of buildings assigned to me to photograph in the area the first task is to locate where they are. Even with Ordnance Survey Maps and a compass this has not always been easy. The listed structures have been many and varied from Town Hall to Country Manor, Red Telephone Box to Dovecotes. Many are situated in places that make it quite a challenge to find them!

Where possible the photographs are taken from publicly accessible land. Where the "defining image" can only successfully be taken from private land, permission for photography is sought. Most of the time people have been very cooperative and helpful, in many cases saving hours of investigation and search by allowing me to "dip" into their local knowledge.

Once I've identified the correct building to photograph the next challenge begins. How do you take one exterior photograph that defines, as clearly as possible, the major architectural features of the building, show its relationship to its surroundings and choose the best light conditions? The shutter goes click and that's one image complete.
19th Century terrace, Stapleton, North Yorkshire - IoE Number: 322701 © Mr Alan Bradley LRPS
Croft Bridge, Hurworth, County Durham - IoE Number: 350443 © Mr Alan Bradley LRPS In the years that I have been a volunteer photographer for Images of England I have covered many miles and taken well over 1,000 images for the project. It is still such a unique experience. Although I have always considered I knew the area in which I have been photographing well, Images of England has introduced to me places that I never knew existed and people I would never have met."

To view more of Alan's photographs click here.

If you are a volunteer photographer and would like to share some of your experiences while working on the Images of England project please send them to Alexandra Saxon: Alexandra.saxon@english-heritage.org.uk


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