City & Guilds Course Participant Feature: James Kelberman

James is 42 years old and deaf. He is currently enrolled in an outreach project Photofusion offers together with City & Guilds. The course (level 1 is 6 weeks and level 2 is 10 weeks) is free for anybody eligible for job seekers allowance, income support or ESA.

This is the first time James has been taught photography by a professional. He found the course through his local Jobcentre – and insisted doing the course despite that the Jobcentre wanted him to take on a job. James is about to finish level 2 of the course and is determined to work as a photographer in the future.

During the course James has learned how to use an SLR camera and how to print in the darkroom, among other things including studio work. Until now he used his point-and-shoot digital camera but says that the small digital camera never was enough as he wanted to be more creative than the camera could offer. The darkroom work really opened up his mind as he says it is very fascinating to learn how to print.

James enjoys the course a lot, he says – when he wakes up in the morning he really looks forward to his day. The City & Guilds course at Photofusion has helped him to step up to a new level in photography and he enjoys the challenge this brings. James is eager to learn more about photography. He has done several courses in other subjects before but this is the most exciting one he has ever done.

James tells me that he has been interested in photography for a long time. There is something about capturing the moment that gives him great satisfaction and pleasure. When creating photographs, James feels free. Since he has always been deaf James doesn’t know how this might affect how he takes photographs. Maybe, he says, it is easier to concentrate for him than others because there are no distracting sounds. Creating photographs is however linked to the eye and the brain rather than hearing.

James’s favourite subjects are landscapes and cityscapes: nature, forests, the countryside and ruins and old buildings. At the moment he is preparing for an exhibition at Photofusion showcasing the work of 13 course participants. In February, James photographed snow in Clapham Common and this will be his contribution to the show in June. He will print 5 black and white photographs in the darkroom to hang in the gallery.

Snow is his choice because, as he explains, he always liked trees, open space, and the peace and quiet these spaces offer. And after I reveal that I come from Finland and have a very special relationship with snow he admits that he also likes snow, but only sometimes.

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James’s snow landscapes can be seen at Photofusion Gallery 10-21 June 2013: www.photofusion.org/exhibitions/outreach-city-guilds/
The launch party is on Wednesday 12 June 18.30-21.00.