Well, it just had to happen! Just a few weeks before we should get the jab, both of us tested positive for Covid-19 and are self isolating for 10 days. It has affected us in different ways, but hopefully by Friday 22nd, we can get out into the fresh air again. We have now decided to stop lecturing at Camera Clubs, a very hard decision to take. Here is a letter we have written to The MCPF and The PAGB, hopefully they will print it.
A Long And Well Trod Road
I have read many articles by sports men and women who have all said that they knew when it was time to retire. In certain cases, this is just as relevant in anything we do.
We are Jon and Sue Baker, perhaps better known as “Four Feet From Telford.” I have been judging at Camera Clubs for just over 30 years now and can still remember my first faltering steps. I became a Fellow of The Royal Photographic Society in October 1988 and almost immediately, my phone was ringing with Clubs asking me to come and judge their competitions. “After all”, they said, “you are an FRPS so you must know what you are talking about” If only! So started my career in Club Judging and by late 2018, I had judged Club, Federation, National and International Competitions. The end came very swiftly. In June 2018, I had Radical Prostate Cancer surgery. Many things pass through your mind, but I stayed positive, wanting to carry on with my hobby. I judged a competition ~ Nature and Open ~ at a Camera Club and halfway through judging the Nature images, a photographer stood up and said that this was not being judged as a Nature Competition and basically I did not know what I was talking about. Pin’s could be heard dropping and no-one said anything to this person. A Mexican Stand Off ensued, but I can look after myself, so politely asked them to sit down. However, the damage was done; don’t know if it was too soon after my operation, but I just remember standing there thinking what on earth am I doing here and why am I bothering. Thirty years of trying to be objective and pass on as much information as I could was destroyed in a couple of minutes. This feeling never left me and I have not judged Club Competitions since.
Lecturing on the other hand, has been the joy of my life. I produced my first Mono talk in 1991 and have been very fortunate over the years to have been sponsored by The On-Line Paper Company. Owner Chris Burslem was always very positive about my work and this gave me great confidence. In the mid 90’s Sue had become much more confident in her photography and joined me on stage. Thus “Four Feet From Telford” was born.
We have enjoyed so much our travels around The UK, visiting nearly every Federation and doing tours in The Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Cumbria, The North East, Wales, South East and South West England. As proud Midlanders, it has been an honour to represent The MCPF, even as far as being interviewed on Austrian TV. I would have been quite happy to have carried on giving talks until my last breath, but as you get older life does become a series of compromises. Another DNA gift from my father was Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition. For a number of years now I have had to have DVLA eye tests and recently it has become obvious that I am struggling to see to drive at night. I cannot put anyone’s life at risk just to continue lecturing, so we have decided to call it a day. During the last 10 years, I have had the privilege of putting together Audio Visual Presentations of The Wrekin Salon and The Midland Salon. Photography and Rock Music, it doesn't get any better!
We shall miss it all dreadfully. We had some wonderful times on the road and met some really inspiring people. There is nothing quite like a winters night, in a warm, darkened room talking to like minded people about something we all enjoy doing. Doing a Zoom presentation is nothing like this, so now is the time for Sue and I to take a new road. We cannot possibly get round to see all the friends we have made, so please know that we remember you all. You never know, we may just turn up to one of your meetings. The cameras are still being used and we have our own website at www.jonandsuebaker.co.uk Please feel free to leave us a message there.
Take care, take good pictures and enjoy your hobby. All I have ever wanted to do was put something back into photography and hopefully, I have succeeded. The last 30 years have been an absolute blast and we would not have missed it for anything.
Jon Baker MFIAP, EFIAP/p.
Sue Baker EFIAP, BPE 3*