The other fly in the ointment was that Mel was now the higher earner of the two solely because of her private work. She couldn’t see how that could be maintained without her spending regular holidays from the shop, travelling on assignments. She’d also been approached, more than once, to work for international companies as a photographer on a substantial salary, but there again, that would have meant long periods away from home. Mel was ambitious, but she knew that, eventually, such a life could lead to a split from Jamie, and she was not prepared to risk losing the love that she’d now found with him.
So, in the meantime, the two worked together, often sat at the same table for meals, had occasional dates and, when they could, booked a weekend together. That was as far as it went in April 2018.
October – a working holiday.
When it came time for her annual leave that year, following a discussion with Jamie and Tony, Mel chose to use the time to travel to Snowdonia, in North Wales, to take photographs – some for an exhibition she was planning and others for an international competition with a first prize of several thousand dollars. She’d chosen late October for its later dawns and earlier sunsets; for the softer light and changing foliage colours; for a chance of an ‘Indian summer’; and because it would be a quiet time in the shop.
She began with a couple of days on the Lleyn Peninsula for some of the stunning coastal seascapes along its northern edge in places such as Trefor – with its sea stacks and PorthYsgadn. From there she moved on to Anglesey and Holy Island – particularly to photograph on Ynys Llanddwyn with its Celtic crosses and disused lighthouse – but also to record her own take other photographers’ favourites such as the lighthouse on South Stacks.
She spent most of her time however in the mountains of Snowdonia with the beautiful lakes, forests and waterfalls.
Wherever she could she captured images of the local wildlife – the goats of Tryfan, the wild horses of the Carneddau or the sheep that made their unpenned way along the middle of village roads.
Above all, it was the majesty of the peaks of the hills that enraptured her – the highest peaks in the whole of England and Wales – the rugged ridges and dizzying descents; the mountain lakes and the views across to neighbouring ranges.
There were enough variations in environment to challenge all of her acquired skills – and to fill several media cards for culling and processing each night before sleep. She returned home exhausted but with a shortlist of images to hone ready for submission.
Late November – showing her work.
Her week-long exhibition in Leeds, her nearest major city, was an outstanding success. Staff of several photographic magazines and even people from national newspapers came to interview her and to take photographs of her work. Tony had been delighted to grant her paid leave to be there. Advertising for Hannays’ would be displayed prominently. Marcus was now trusted enough and well-competent to manage – and, if necessary, Jamie would come down to help him.
Mel had worked hard to present a professional image – a successful image – to visitors. She’d had her hair extensively but expensively shortened into a razored and layered chin-length straight bob. She wondered what Jamie would have to say about it. In her crisply ironed, white, shirt-style blouse, straight black trousers and gleaming leather heeled shoes, she stood out as the celebrity in charge.
Tony and Jamie took turns to visit during the week to provide further moral support, and Jamie was stunned by her appearance, her poise and her confidence. He told her that her new hairstyle really suited her. He couldn’t get over the new Mel look – he was awestruck.
Mel had worked with a publisher to produce a coffee-table book of her images of Snowdonia. Copies of the book, signed on the spot by Mel, were available for sale at the exhibition. The contents were mainly photographs with a limited amount of accompanying text to describe the scene and state the settings she’d used. Jamie made sure to buy a copy for himself and Tony bought one for display in the shop.
The publisher had worked with her and one of his staff to produce the cover and the front and back pages. Otherwise, the main task had been to decide which images to include and in what sequence in the book.
Her dad had taken time out from his architecture practice to provide support, such as handing out leaflets about the exhibits and selling copies of the book, while Mel spoke to visitors about the specific images displayed on the stands around the exhibition hall.
In the relatively closed world of photography, Mel was now a celebrity.
Today, I continue my series of photos taken in and around the Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge, where I spent a Saturday earlier in June.
This next shot is another scene from the canal that runs through the town.
For all these shots, I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera twinned with a Pentax 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 mm lens. The EXIF data for this photo were 1/400 secs @ f/10, focal length 53 mm, and ISO 400.