Using one’s gifts – 3

The third in a series featuring church members with creative gifts

By Mike Rego – whose images may also be found elsewhere on this website

I bought my first ‘proper’ camera with money from my 18th Birthday, and then learnt to develop and print black-and-white film as a student at university using the Camera Club’s darkroom, which enabled me to experiment with different styles and to learn what worked and what didn’t. I photographed much ‘student life’, but as a geologist I also photographed landscapes which was very helpful as well as aesthetically satisfying.

The opportunities that I had to travel and live overseas with my career, often overseas and to remote locations, made me realise how fortunate I was to see so much that in a glimpse would be gone for ever, and that many would never even experience. Some things seem quite ordinary to us at the time, and then suddenly they are gone and forgotten, unless we record them. The seemingly mundane of the here and now becomes yesterday’s longed-for tradition.

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As a student, after my first-year exams I spent a morning photographing the decaying docks in Swansea — oh, how I wish I had spent more time there! — which are now a glitzy marina with bars, coffee shops, boutique hotels, trendy apartments and offices and no sign of the people that toiled there or the major industries they once supported. I have travelled to places such as Siberia, East Africa, and even regularly to North Korea since 2002, and there too there has been much progress, but always it is the people and the human spirit that shine through as the one constant. Even the landscapes around us — especially on Dartmoor — show the influence of not just the underlying geological story on the landscape, but also of mankind, eking out a living.

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I have been lucky to see so much on my travels, and even more to be able to record so much with my camera — whether it is an image of a factory worker in North Korea, a peasant farmer in Siberia, or sheep-shearing in North Bovey. We are all the same and I hope that my images of people especially help to show the uniqueness and commonality of the human spirit.