Review - "Life Through an Aspergic Lens" with Alison Webber FRPS, 15 Mar 2021

A review by Glynn Grylls - "Life Through an Aspergic Lens" with Alison Webber FRPS, 15 Mar 2021
Alison gave an intriguing and thought provoking presentation, accompanied by many of her excellent photographs. In a period of less than five years, starting as a complete beginner, she has achieved three RPS distinctions culminating in a FRPS. She has developed her own style of photography which has been very much influenced by her Autism.

She told us how she was inspired to take photographs during her honeymoon in Canada in 2016, and shortly afterwards meeting our very own John Tilsley who recommended she join Dorchester Camera Club.

Alison has recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of Autism, which affects her life in three ways: obsessive behaviours, becoming socially awkward, and a heightened visual awareness. She has managed to channel these to produce her wonderful photography. In the past she considered she needed to hide behind a “cloak of conformity” and mimic what other successful photographers are producing, but now realises that it’s fine to be different and have free expression.

Firstly she explained how obsessive behaviour can take over ones life, resent interruptions and exclude others in the family etc, but she had channelled the obsessions into her photography projects:

Architecture - Alison showed a collection of very exciting photos, mainly of building details taken with her unique perspective. Working in black and white, she had picked out fascinating shapes in the buildings.

Photo of the Day - In June 2020 she started to take a picture a day and post on Instagram. She felt this forced her into taking images that she would not normally do. Alison showed a selection of very varied pics with subjects from an old shredded wheat factory to Chesil beach and sheep wool on a fence, and her obvious ‘seeing eye’ meant she produced a collection of excellent graphic pics of things most of us would just walk by.

RPS Distinctions - In February 2018 Alison entered a panel of 15 pics, which she showed us, and achieved an LRPS. In the same year, October 2018 she entered a wonderful collection of pics of seaside memories produced in a unique style, and achieved an ARPS. Only 2 years later she achieved her FRPS. Very few people have achieved an FRPS in so short a time.

Local Gardens - Alison went out of her comfort zone, having to talk with neighbours, and took a collection of colour images taken in their gardens which showed the gardens real personality.

Maiden castle - Alison showed us pictures taken on her early morning daily visits to Maiden Castle (including Christmas Day!) showing the wonderful shapes created by the castle banks, lone trees and dawn shadows.

Alison explained ‘the social media trap’ that she called “Dopamine or despair” and how she had learnt not to rate her pics by the number of likes she got on Instagram, and not to continue posting only similar ones to those with the most likes – that way would limit her style.

Alison then showed us her ‘conversation menu’ which helps her get over social awkwardness, and also explained how her photography has helped her react with other people. She showed a beautiful set of images of local crafts people: potter, sculptor, boatbuilder, and upholsterer.

Finally, Alison explained how her heightened visual awareness had helped her put her 21 image FRPS panel together. She produced wonderful images of buildings. In each of these she had taken down the density of most of the image to pale greys, just leaving in full strength a few rectangular shapes, doors, windows, cladding etc, to emphasise the shapes she sees, and to leave a collection beautiful to look at and in her own unique style.

Alison had the type of energy in her work that we should all feed off. Far from being a hindrance Alison had used her Autism to great advantage in her photography to demonstrate her really exciting individuality – something we should all wish for.

~ Glynn Grylls