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Monday, 22 October 2018


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What a great story and a great photographer. One of the thing I like about photography is that is is a practical art form with the power to tell great stories with both simplicity and sophistication. Ms Pepper has grasped that with both hands.

Thank you. That is a lovely and inspirational story. A real day brightener (especially for someone who hopes to photograph until she is at least 98!)

If I can take photographs as good as those when I am 98 I will be very happy indeed.

Apparently she shoots the same model Rolleiflex Vivian Maier did. Talk about interesting coincidence.

Lovely story! What I don't understand in the article is that all pictures in the gallery are very low-contrast, but the in the last photography, the pictures on the wall show rich, contrasty, wonderfully toned B&W.

Thanks for sharing that inspirational tale. There may be hope for me after all. I haven’t quite hit 60 yet....

Wonderful pictures. And isn't it nice that she photographed with a Rolleiflex. What a great antidote to all the talk about mirrorless cameras and supersharp lenses.

The number one tool in a portrait photographer's arsenal is empathy!

Thank you!! This article is fantastic. I bet she doesn't spend a lot of time obsessing on sharpness, dynamic range, and bokeh.

Though I was born, raised, and educated in Saskatchewan, I had never heard of Thelma Pepper until today. Thank you for sharing this.

What a great story. Definitely a pick me up. Hats off to Thelma Pepper. Thanks for sharing, Mike. Tom Walsh

It's Tuesday morning here, but it's still an uplifting story. A vocation found, documenting otherwise untold stories. I'd like to think that Thelma's work will be preserved in a way that allows for wider appreciation.

A wonderful little story, Mike. Thanks very much to you and Mitch Krupp for passing it along.

Peter Wright’s comment, “So if you’re interested in photography be interested in something else first.” strikes the golden spike squarely on the head. Among the countless celebrated bodies of photo work I’ve seen I cannot think of many that resulted principally from “jus’ walkin’ ‘round” or “jus’ cuz it was pretty”. Even strong street photography is never purely a product of pure happenstance but, rather, of dogged pursuit of capturing candid public scenes in creative and expressive ways.

One other thought: Ms. Pepper was no unskilled rube with that Rollei, either! She may not have picked up a camera until she was 60 but she sure learned how to load a frame with the stuff required to illustrate her oral profiles! Once again, I’m sure a great deal of that came from being interested in, and involved with, her subjects. (I.e. I doubt that she took workshops on the rule of thirds, golden sections, or any other compositional formalism principles.)

Lovely story. And I couldn't agree more with Peter Wright: ". . . if you are interested in photography, first be interested in something else."

Thanks for the link to that story. I gotta agree with Peter Write above. An interest in photography is not enough (let alone interest in cameras). The urge to tell a story, to show others something is of much more importance.

This is worrying: if she was born in 1941, how come she's in her 90s?

Have I suffered a time-slip, and am I over 100?


Jim Simmons doubts the need for passion that's focused on a specific subject that moves the photographer enough to go out there and put in the work that success takes.

I feel quite the opposite. Without that chosen love object there can't really be the drive that love induces. Just wandering about making snaps is one thing, and he mentions a notable "success story" with that perspective or MO; it doesn't take a lot of experience to spot naked emperors when they strut the street.

I can't think of a single, real, photographic icon who did not have passion for a fairly narrow and carefully chosen genre. Perhaps it's a matter of grading: one person accepts one degree of expertise as being good, whereas another will be entirely unmoved, expecting a lot more before handing out laurels.

If the object is simply to take/make photographs, then we are speaking different languages; just snapping, however technically brilliant that may eventually make an operator, is valueless unless he also has something worthwhile to project - and there, perhaps, 90% of the trouble that non-focussed photographers invariably face.

I struggle with the notion that a passion for a subject is necessary to fuel or inspire good work.

So do I. A lot of art is work for hire. The artist is inspired by a pay-check. It makes no difference if you are a code-slinger, copy-writer or photographer. Some clients need problems solved—while other clients want a story told. Can you Solve or Tell on demand?

Yes, a good pro solves on demand every time.

And a good pro will often turn out to be a specialist: a guy who found his metier early on, and turned pro because it was the only way to make that type of work reality.

I know this; it is not supposition.

There are so-called photographers around who fell into it; others picked it up because they had the money to do it, and possibly because everything else seemed like hard work. Their surprise at what's involved to make it keep working can lead to them becoming something else rather quickly.

One of the few validations that your work is worth anything is when the 'phone rings and a stranger asks you to his office because he saw something you did and feels willing to pay you good money (if you are smart enough to hold out for it) to do something similar for his company.

There is neither shame nor defeat in working as a photographer; there is both in being a hack and, often, a charlatan.


"just snapping, however technically brilliant that may eventually make an operator, is valueless unless he also has something worthwhile to project"

I strongly disagree with this idea. I think a photograph can stand (or not) on its own merits, regardless of whether the photographer or the photograph have something worthwhile to say. Either it is a good photograph, or it is not. Either it is a series of good photographs, or it is not. Having a passion for the subject (as opposed to having a passion for photography?) or having something worthwhile to project has nothing to do with the merits of the photograph[s].

That's an interesting position, Ken.

It would seem that you are advocating the motordrive technique but without the mental perspective that normally triggers that.

The British Journal of Photography used to publish (possibly still does - abandoned it years ago) images, usually from students, that for all the world resembled my dump exposures made when winding on the film. Some did, indeed, resemble later, digital stuff created using Photoshop, but it would have been hard for me to have claimed any credit for happenstance.

Hmmm... the thinking print.


Your pooch displays more common sense than do driven photographers.

There are many photo-opportunities in rainy-day photography, but the usual one captured is a dose of the cold.

On the reasonable assumption that dogs are more closely attuned to the messages of nature, it's often wise to observe their caution.



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