Although we are all going through extremely difficult times through lockdown, CommunityAd caught up with Bramley & Sherfield-on-Loddon photographer Stuart Poffley whose beautiful pictures serve as a healthy reminder of just how picturesque our lovely villages are.
What inspired you to first take up photography?
What inspired me to take up photography wasn’t a book, watching a TV programme, or buying a camera, it was something much closer to me.
My personal situation has been particularly challenging over the past few years. This had quite a detrimental effect on my mental health and general wellbeing. I like taking long walks within the village and surrounding areas, often eight or more miles. As well as exercise, I use this as a means of finding solace; the invaluable space and peace I can take advantage of being out in the countryside gives me time to think, unpick everything, try to make sense of it all. It helps me find a balance through difficult times.
It is during these periods of calm that I came to realise that I no longer just ‘look’ around me, I consciously observe and ‘see’ my surroundings. I have begun to really notice the natural beauty and charm of the countryside. It is this realisation that inspires me to capture images of the local area as I see it at the time, using the camera on my phone.
The time spent walking, discovering the many footpaths, views, opportunities to capture lovely scenes, and the resulting photographs has immeasurably helped improve my mental health and wellbeing. This therapeutic effect is my motivation to continue to my efforts and further my photography skills.
From a personal perspective, what are some of your favourite photos you have taken?
My personal favourite photos are those which capture ambience, the mood of the scene, the calmness and tranquility; those images with immersive qualities.
During my walks, I take time to reflect; contemplation allows me to clear my mind. This provides me with the necessary headspace to take in my surroundings, noticing details, colour, light, shape, texture, composition. It is during these times where I capture my favourite images, those which best reflect my emotions or the memories I have been dealing with on that day. The depth of atmospheric impact of the photograph is what I strive to achieve, transporting the viewer to that location, that moment in time, how it felt to me when the image was captured.
What makes Bramley & Sherfield-on-Loddon such a beautiful place to take photos in and where are your favourite spots to take pictures?
For me, what makes Sherfield-on-Loddon and the surrounding areas such a beautiful place to take photographs is the accessibility to the countryside. A short walk, just a few minutes, and you find yourself immersed within beautiful surroundings. The River Loddon provides serenity; there are numerous footpaths which provide access to riverside walks, bridges, water meadows and wildlife. There are many nice spots in Sherfield-on-Loddon, however, I often enjoy walking many miles cross-country to surrounding areas of Stratfield Saye, Bramley, Hartley Wespall, Rotherwick, Newnham and Old Basing.
It takes time, effort and a lot of miles get covered in pursuit of my photographs. The local area changes a great deal depending on the weather, time of day and season; a flooded field or high river level, bright sunshine, frost, fog, sunset colours… any variations offer opportunities to take different, interesting photographs. My favourite spots tend to be the more remote, quieter locations and especially numerous places along the banks of the River Loddon.
What do you enjoy most about living in Sherfield-on-Loddon?
There is a strong community spirit, more so now with lockdown restrictions meaning people are staying local and spending more time in the village, and appreciating how lucky we are to live somewhere with such beautiful countryside on our doorstep. I also really value the lovely kind words, comments and likes when I share my photos on the local community Facebook groups, it gives me a real sense of personal achievement knowing my photography is appreciated by so many people. For me though, what I enjoy most is the proximity to the village’s name-sake, the River Loddon and its therapeutic effects.
High-quality prints (gallery standard, ready to frame) and canvases of some of my photographs can be purchased to order. Every print or canvas sold will help to raise funds for MIND, the Mental Health charity.
Please email me at [email protected] for further details and to place your order.