22 February 2021 EMMA DRABBLE – “Beyond the Obvious”

As our time in lockdown slowly comes to an end our flexibility, as a club, reveals itself with innovative speakers. This week we were able to welcome the return of Emma Drabble, a professional photographer, with a membership of the NUJ and a commanding skill with documentary communication. Having a press photography background, and enviable know-how to receive, and interpret, commissions from a wide variety of customers and to lead them through to a completed project. The description below will demonstrate her versatility.
The opening images, largely in black and white, took us through hairdressing, Colour L’Oréal, Tesco food to develop eco friendly packaging, all requiring the images to tell a story. In order to use this ability, she was chosen to reveal “stories from the Wye” a commission funded by the Heritage Lottery. This took lateral thinking to tell the complete story through as many facets as possible, farmers, gamekeeper, pigeon fancier, sisters with a family background on the railway, the concept of catching the moment to demonstrate a continuous life is a particular gift. We saw net fishers on the Severn Estuary – a dying art preserved in glorious photographs.


It is, perhaps, unsurprising that our speaker would revert to her early training to bring to us her own experiences during lockdown. Many of us were surprised that not only did she contract Covid-19 but so did three of her teenage children, all living in Monmouth – widely reported to be virus free!
During lockdown a new commission took the form of a photo essay “documenting in the Wye valley AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty) capturing people’s fears and hopes during the pandemic – Emma has been creating audio portraits, sharing stories, showing how people are surviving during these challenging times” This segment of her talk actually showed images, taken with a long lens, of people looking very ill and audio of their own feelings and concerns at that time (this was probably a first for SYPC). Reports ranged from young people, the local grocer, local vicar, a seamstress producing PPE voluntarily, the local GP and images within the surgery, a lady farmer describing her difficulties, the senior professional carer, and her son, in the local care home – this was particularly graphic as the complex instructions that reached this section of the community had to be disseminated before it could be enacted under a practical plan.

Abigail Katsande


Finally, and demonstrating an uplifting pointer to the future, her latest commission is the development of Lord Nelson’s association with Monmouth and the building of an historic site to exhibit a range of his artefacts and extensive treasures – who knew?
For more of this fascinating speaker/photographer/reporter you might like to explore Emma’s website at – https://www.drabbleandco.com/

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