Photos: Valerie Kleindienst.
Redlands Camera Club member Valerie Kleindienst tells us what drives her to continue her lifelong love of taking photos.
Ever since my early days, I have loved photography. I’ve always had a simple camera and, through the years, have enjoyed taking photos of almost anything.
In 1986 my partner Max took me to Serbia, his home country. I have seen many changes there in subsequent years, but back in earlier times, in the rural areas, I saw horses and carts, donkeys and teams of oxen still in use. There were charcoal burners beside the road and water mills in small villages.
The people wore traditional Serbian clothes. In the city, I was fascinated by the Gypsy people. They are wonderful musicians, and often you see a small orchestra wandering the streets, looking to be hired for a gig. Skadarlija, a cobbled street in Belgrade, is famous for its restaurants with musicians playing traditional Serbian songs and entertaining the guests.
It wasn’t until about six years ago, when I joined the Redlands Camera Club, that I actually learnt how to use my camera properly. I met travel photographer Pia Jessen through the club and joined her photographic tour to Ethiopia, a destination I’d always had in mind to visit. My camera at this stage was a Sony NEX-7, an early mirrorless camera that amazed me with the wonderful photos it took, even with my basic knowledge. I greatly enjoyed this type of travel and followed it up with two more of Pia’s trips to Madagascar and Indonesia.
Later, I upgraded to the Sony A9 full-frame camera, and my photography skills improved over this time. With help from various club members, workshops and field trips, I now feel quite confident, but there is always more to learn!