Residents Who Make An Impact

MEET THE MAN BEHIND THE CAMERA

Tony Worrall is an Ashton resident whose impressive photos you may well have seen in various places over the past few years.

He has kindly shared a little of what makes him tick in the questions & answers below.


Are you Ashton born and bred?

Disappointingly, no. I was actually born in Ramsgate so technically I’m a Southerner.

My dad had to move around the country with his job and we finally ended up in Fulwood. He was the manager of the Fame supermarket.

I have lived in Ribbleton, Larches, Penwortham, Lostock Hall, Newton near Kirkham and finally Ashton; in my opinion the best place to live.


Are You A Professional Photographer?

I don’t think I have the patience (or money) to be a professional so It’s purely a hobby.

I have had some training and really enjoy joining shoots from time to time.

It only really took off with the advent of digital. Although I used the old film type cameras, they were a lot more unforgiving. And you had to wait days for Boots to develop your film roll!

I always have a camera with me , sometimes two (not just the phone). You never know what you could miss if you don’t have them.



What prompted your interest in photography?


I’ve always been interested in imagery and graphics; photography was the next step. I always had a camera in my hand, even as a kid (the cheap throwaway ones then). I’m one of those people who take a million images when on trips or holiday even as a teenager. I have hundreds of pics in old photo albums and slides - remember them?

My interest in documenting Preston really began from a separate project; a blog detailing hundreds of obscure facts about the city. I then began taking photos of the places I mention, which slowly built into photographing virtually every street in Preston! My photos attracted attention from organisations in Preston from the Council, charities, Blog Preston, Lancs Live etc. I had a brief spell documenting news events. I even photographed and interviewed Simon Rigby (RIP).

A big thrill was getting a backstage pass to photo all of the Preston Guild in 2012 where I got to meet the real Wallace & Gromit figures with Prestonian Nick Park.



What was the subject of the earliest photo you remember taking?


The one that sticks in my mind was of the Queen on the steps of The Guild Hall when she visited in 1977. I was Just a couple of feet from her. You couldn’t do that these days .

I also have a few from the Guild in 1972 which I thought was a tremendous event as a kid.



What are your Flickr stats?


Flickr is my photo album. I’ve currently got over 71,000 images on there with almost 30 million views. I also run the Preston Group on Flickr, but I need to do more work with that. In the early days Flickr was much more social. In fact I met a few fellow Preston photographers through the site.


I’ve used other photo sites but find Flickr the easiest and best for my needs. The great thing, better than Facebook, is you can share your images with the World. It’s such a buzz when I post a photo and a minute later someone in Japan, or India likes or comments on it. It’s also great for searching with the use of tags; searches can come up in Google so people can find a specific picture. Facebook and Instagram are not so effective in that way.

Do you have a routine when it comes to wandering Ashton?


Ah. Obviously as I live in Ashton it’s my main hunting area.

I don’t drive so tend to walk everywhere. The beauty of Ashton is that everything is close by, it’s like it’s own little city!

I try and get a lap or two of the docks during the week. It's always great for shots and some superb sunsets. It’s also great to have the canal on my doorstep so I'll take a walk up to Haslam Park and beyond probably twice a week, weather permitting.

With my ‘reporter’ head on I am always on alert for anything newsworthy in the area




Where is your favourite place to photograph?





The docks' sunsets tend to be spectacular, but I got a bit of stick for taking so many a while back so it's not so much of a favourite these days.



Haslam Park is spectacular all times of year.



Outside of that I do a lot of what’s called ‘urban hiking’; basically scouting out all the backstreets and secrets of places I visit. You’d be surprised what can be found sometimes.



Anyone visiting my Flickr pages will notice a lot of food photos as well. I’m a big foodie and cook a lot. I trained in food styling photography but find it a bit of a faff that distracts from the central object.


I tend to enjoy food festivals (sadly not this year) and have taken the photo of many famous chefs over the years.



What is your definition of “street photography and what is the attraction?


A large part of my collection is taken in the streets. I define it simply as a record of everyday life in a public place.



It’s a bit of a buzz taking images without people knowing. Some think it strange, okay, but it is considered an art form. It’s a little slice of the day never to be repeated. Also, you never know what you are going to get.



I am not pedantic about it. Some photographers may wait for hours to get the best shot. But I go for spontaneity.



There is a bit of controversy at times but remember when you walk down the street or go in a shop you are being filmed all the time. Also, you have to be careful around young ones obviously.



I am always amazed how some great street photographers take their images without the subject being aware, even though they are inches from them.


Have you any fun stories/ photos from your travels round Ashton?


I’ve seen some shocking things on my wanders, but a few fun things as well.

When I first moved to the area there was a hot air balloon display on Ashton Park. It was an amazing sight and I thought great, are there going to be more of these shows? Sadly not.

I am fascinated by the history of the old hall where Star Youth Club is (for now!). Really interesting to know a medieval monastery and possibly a Roman fort existed here, almost under our feet. Hardly anyone knows about it in Preston. Not a trace now exists, no information boards, nothing.

I always enjoy the swan breeding season. You can watch people ‘ahhing’ at the swans one minute and then next minute the female is attempting to drown a nearby duck! They can get very vicious.!

My photo of the sign on the canal in dog language recently got people talking, and into the Lancashire Post.

How do you feel about people using your photos without consent?

People taking images without consent is a photographers occupational hazard. It happens and we have to get over it. Some people, especially on Facebook think anything you put on the internet is free to use. Which of course it is not.

I’ve seen my photos in many places without any credit. I’ve even seen them with a credit, but they never asked me first!

During the last election, a photo of Jeremy Corbyn was used on thousands of leaflets without my consent (they would have got it if they asked). Sometimes fellow photographers will let you know if they recognise your images in publications. We normally send the guilty parties an invoice for payment, but that’s very hit and miss.

That said, I find photography (and sharing that photography) very therapeutic. It gives you an objective and a meaning to get out. A fellow photographer said it doesn’t matter what kit you have, the best thing you can do is get out of bed, go on a photography trip and find a great scene. "You miss 100% of the shots that you don't take". Shame about lockdown though.