I only used my "maddest thing" question once with today’s trio of strangers and even then I didn’t really ask it as much as comment on the fact that I sometimes use it – Steve had already given me the kind of story that I like but before we parted company I got another couple out of him. Steve and I talked for so long in fact that I had to change my plans of where I was going next and instead I had to go back to my car which was about to run out of parking time.
When I first saw Steve at Tynemouth’s Priory he was taking a photograph looking across King Edward’s Bay and as I couldn’t see his face as I approached it’s difficult to say what specifically made me approach him but I’m glad that I did. After he’d agreed and I’d explained the project I asked where he was going to today and he replied that he’d only just got back into cycling but once he had completed the "three axes" over a period of 3 months. For this challenge Steve cycled from Lands End to John o’ Groats then a separate trip from Whitehaven across to the North Sea and finally he climbed Ben Nevis – thus covering the length, breadth and "height" of the UK. It was at this point that I mentioned my maddest thing question but Steve didn’t think the 3 axes challenge covered that so offered up his second story instead …
There came a point in Steve’s life that his friends had all flown regularly but he hadn’t – until the day he did a parachute jump from Thirsk – so the first plane that Steve ever got into he also threw himself out of at a height of 2200ft. This state of affairs remained for a couple of year before Steve finally enjoyed a more traditional flight.
Steve is from Cheshire and originally trained as a technical illustrator producing exploded sketches of engine blocks and such like. As the times moved Steve moved with them and his job has now become unbelievably technical as a designer for art and photographic exhibitions. We talked at length about what his job involves and it was really interesting hearing about how various presentations come to fruition and his use of 3D modelling tools to first put the pieces together but then introduce lighting and reflections to hold everything together. To me, understanding PhotoShop seemed trivial in comparison – but then Steve has a simple business philosophy … stick to what you’re good at. The key to business isn’t knowing what you can do, it’s knowing what you can’t do.
The final story that Steve offered up was priceless – not mad, not amazing but it made me smile. He did a job once for a large international organisation that wanted about 10 A1 posters made up but all they had available were A4 150dpi images – Steve checked and checked again that this was all they had to work with and explained that they simply would not scale up to A1 without serious quality degradation and pixelation although there were some things he could do to mitigate the problems such as cut out the important bits and superimpose them on stock images. But this was the remit so after a lot of hard work Steve came up with the posters. This was the point that the client decided to mention that they also had some funny .RAW files but they didn’t know what they were for! 😉
With that I thanked Steve very much for his time and went off to rescue my car before it got towed away. Steve waved cheerfully as he passed me on his bike but I don’t think I ever did find out where Steve was going today!
Steve – I really enjoyed our chat so thank you very much for taking so much time out of your day today to help me with my project.
Please feel free to provide constructive critique on the technical aspects of this photograph.
This picture is #92 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page