About Me



My name is Catherine and I live in Surrey. The purpose of this learning log is to record my progress on an Open College of the Arts Photography Course.

Most of my working life has been spent in the social care field – Probation Service followed by Social Work (specialising in mental health and learning disability).  I hadn’t enjoyed my grammar school education and left before ‘O’ levels.  I’d like to think it was because I was too independently minded and questioning of what I was being taught but, being honest, I think now it was more a case of not liking to have to knuckle down and focus!

I went back to education as a mature student and then really enjoyed learning. Working in an Adult Education Centre brought me into contact with ex-offenders wanting to improve their life chances and this is why I eventually ended up training as a probation officer.  I met many people with a talent for drawing or poetry, which had somehow been unrecognised at school and also other types of creativity, which had been applied to their detriment.

In recent years I’ve been involved in training on a self-employed or sessional basis.  I enjoyed helping other people to learn and, more importantly, to acknowledge the skills and knowledge they already had. I learned a lot about how people learn and how they can get ‘stuck’ and lose motivation.  It was strange to experience this process myself when I did a short Mentoring Course.

You might be asking yourself now, “What has all this to do with a Photography Course?”  Well – quite a lot for me.  I’ve always been interested in the photograph as an image of record, and have many handed-down photographs to prove this.  I’ve liked to take photographs on holiday and family occasions.  However, until this year (2010) I’d resisted anything other than a compact camera used on auto.  Digital just made it easier for me to send pictures in email and store on my computer.  Encouragement to use my camera’s other programs fell on stony ground until this year! Whilst on holiday in the Dordogne I became frustrated because my camera (a Canon Powershot) wouldn’t take wide-angle views.  When I came back home (June 2010). I decided to take the leap and get a DSLR, with Canon being the first choice because my husband also has a Canon and I could use his lenses.

I really enjoy my EOS 500D.  Technical aspects of the various programs have taxed me but I’ve tried to persevere.  Subscribing to a Flickr site has helped me because it’s motivating to see what other people can achieve and, of course, it’s nice to see that they have a look at my pictures as well.  I’ve felt I’ve reached a plateau though and need more challenge.  So, here I am waiting for the Course materials to arrive – feeling some trepidation but excitement as well. I’m going to be interested to record how I learn; what gets in my way and what encourages me to keep trying and improving.

31 Comments on “About Me”

  1. Hi Catherine,
    I like the new theme for your website. Definitely improvement….

  2. Amir says:

    Hi Catherine, I am also a Surrey resident and am also a student on the TAoP course at the OCA. I discovered your blog while looking for inspiration for the sequence of composition exercise which I am struggling with.

    • Hi Amir, I think I’ve seen you name on forums etc. Yes, I’ve been struggling too. Visited lots of different types of places and have all the examples but struggling to find all that fit within one subject. Have ended up with London as there seemed more scope. Best of luck with it.

  3. Janice says:

    Thank you Catherine. I’ve been very uncertain about how much to write in my Learning Log and found reading yours very helpful. I’m still coming to terms with the blog technology and have written my Learning Log longhand in a book. Now that I’ve submitted “Contrasts”, I hope to continue my log online as I move on to the next part of he course.

  4. Dewald says:

    Hi Catherine

    You really seem to be getting on well with the course, I’m not surprised. Now that I’ve read about your background in other education, it makes sense.
    Your blog is an interesting read! Go you!
    Good luck, and well done on As. 2!

    Greetings from over the sea!

    • Hi Dewald,

      Greetings from sunny Surrey. Thank you for your comment and I’m pleased you like my blog. I follow your progress with interest and you are a great model for me.

      All the best,

  5. John Umney says:

    Hello Catherine,

    Like the others I am impressed by your blog. It appears very structured and clear. I know I’m just starting out in this whole process and I’m still wondering whether I’ve started in the right place! As I say I am impressed by your blog – is this something you had experience in before or have you re-aligned post event, as it were? Is there somewhere I can go to get help, or do you think that it will naturally evolve into the record it needs to be? Or is it a matter mainly of discipline? Mine seems rather flat by comparison http://jsu-photo.blogspot.com/
    Too many questions I know, but if you can offer some advice I would appreciate it enormously.
    Thanks in advance, John

    • Hello John,

      Thanks for your comments. I’m finding WordPress quite easy to navigate. It has loads of free themes and new ones seem to appear on almost a daily basis. At the beginning I changed my theme twice before finding one that seemed easy to read. I think I’ll stick with this particular one until the end of this Module. It gets more complicated as time goes on and the posts grow!
      There have been quite a few forum discussions around blogs. Let me know if you can’t find them and I’ll have a look and send links. the most important thing is to make sure that tutors/assessors can find things easily so the categories are important.
      I think your blog is developing well and it’s interesting to read your thoughts around photography Don’t really know what you mean by ‘flat’. Apart from subject matter (yours is much more knowledgeable than mine) the major difference I can see is that I write shorter paragraphs which break up the content more.
      Best of luck with the Course. I’ll follow you with interest.

  6. I love your colour project images and your cool blog page. I am going to read your South African exhibition essay more closely because there is a lot there to think about. Great!

    • Thanks Anna. Your comments on my write-up on the Exhibition will be very welcome and I’ll be interested in your take on these photographers and how that fits with your memories of South Africa.

  7. mirandagavin says:

    Great to see this learning blog Catherine, I will take a stroll through it and will add it to the blog roll, it could be useful for other people studying too, thanks Miranda

  8. Moris Watt says:

    Hi Catherine,
    I share Miranda’s view. Your blog is clear and well illustrated. I am following the course 1 module behind you. I have just finished colour and am about to start Light. It is useful to see how other people approach the projects.
    Good luck

    • Hi Moris,

      Thanks for stopping by and the compliment. I’m the same as you, I like to have a look at other people’s blogs as well. It’s interesting how everyone takes a slightly different approach to the exercises as well. Hope you continue to enjoy the course.


  9. Steve Hughes says:

    Hi there Catherine,

    What can I say, “WOW” you are really good at this blogging thing, I very much doubt that mine will ever be up to the same standards as yours.

    Keep up the good work.


  10. […] eggleston: On a suggestion from Catherine, I also had a look at the work of William Eggleston. And there was some work and colour […]

  11. Hi there Catherine,

    Having just enrolled on the OCA BA Photography course I have been looking around at some of the blogs and folders to see what people have been up to. I think your blog is excellent and is a really well-structured and clear description of what you have achieved and analysis of how you got there. I chose to go with blogger rather than wordpress and have established the site and added a few words, but nothing serious as yet – it’s time to get out with the camera!

    Good luck with the rest of the course!!

    Best wishes,


    • Thanks for getting in touch Dave and I’m pleased you like my blog. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Course. I’m getting quite obsessional about it so have to watch I don’t go overboard in talking photography all the time!

      All the best,

  12. guylejeune says:


    many thanks for your kind comments about ‘Jamesy’ I’m touched.

    kind regards


  13. bmhana says:

    Hi Catherine,
    I’ve just left a link to your blog on a fellow students blog (Lucy B) with a suggestion that they have a look at it. I hope that’s ok?

    • Catherine says:

      That’s fine Barry – anyone is welcome to have a read and it if helps them too then that’s a plus for me. You seem to be getting on great on ‘Light’. Catherine

  14. Hi Catherine,

    I am an artist, and in the process of creating a website. It is in progress, and in my artist statement I have a rust analogy. I came across one of your images from a google search and would love to be able to use it on my website underneath the statement. I would first like to ask your permission to use it, and then if you grant that permission, I would of course put you as a credit for the photo and a link to your blog. Let me know if you will grant me the use of your image. The particular image that I am interested in is the aqua door with rusted hinge. My website address is

    Thanks for your consideration,
    Annette Buckner Hall

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Annette,

      Your website is interesting to view and I’m pleased you think my image provides a good illustration for your rust analogy. Yes, certainly you may use the image for the purpose you describe.

      Best Wishes,

  15. Thank you Catherine. I will make sure and put the credit reference for you.


  16. Hi Catherine. my name is julie and am a fellow OCA student at around the same level as you on the course. I have often come across your website when i have been looking for inspiration and you have pointed me in the right direction on a few occasions! if you have no objection, I would really love to start following your blog, as I am interested to see where your work will take you in the future – I hope you have no objection to this …

    Julie ..

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Julie, of course it’s fine for you to look at my blog anytime and I’m pleased you’ve found it helpful. I’ve finished AOP now, and plan to also convert the blog into a Blurb book so I can have it on my shelf. It’s all downloaded -just have to edit it. I’ll keep the blog open even though there now won’t be many new additions to it.
      I’ve just come back from the student residential weekend and it was wonderful to have such an intensive experience and time time talking/debating photography and listening to motivating speakers. I’ll certainly be going again if there’s another one.
      I’m now on People & Place and so have a new blog which is at http://catherinebanks.wordpress.com/.
      Best of luck with your OCA course and maybe we’ll meet up on a study Visit sometime (or even the next student residential). There’s Brighton coming up too of course).

  17. Jesus says:

    -Hi ! Catherine . Mi name is Jesus and I am from Mexico. 60 years older and looking on google I find out your blog. Learning by myself with books from internet and practiicing in home and family parties. Let me to say that your blog looks very helpful for people like me want to see with out fancy words.. As we say ” A picture way more than one thousand words”
    I will follow your exercises and sure I will think the same you think.

    Thanks for the time you spend to write this blog.

    A kiss from Mexico.


  18. Mo says:

    Hi Catherine

    Thanks for your comments on my tube piece. Very helpful.

    Congrats on your mark for your last assessment. Looking good.

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