Val is one half of Sligo Hub and wasn’t going to feature on Meet the Maker but as we didn’t have an artist or maker this week here she is.
My name is Val Robus, I’m a photographer based in Coolaney, Co. Sligo. My parents both worked for Kodak; my mum in printing and my dad in the Kodak Museum. I remember spending time with my dad in his dark room watching the magic develop. There was always some kind of a camera knocking around the house so it wasn’t anything unusual to be taking photos – and as we developed our own prints it was cheap enough to do.
Most weekends my dad was off taking wedding photos with my mum as his assistant. I remember my dad being extremely stressed about it so to be honest I never thought any more about photography until the Internet came about.
I was a member of Magic Mum and a group started to take a photo a day. Off I went each day capturing one image that summed up the day, when the year was up I was still snapping. It was at a time when there was a lot of illness in the family and I needed something to do for me. I suppose looking back it was my own form of mindfulness. When I was focused on the image (pardon the pun) I wasn’t thinking about real life. Then this photo happened:
I submitted it to Accuweather and it ended up in their calendar and featured on American TV.
Fast-forward a few years with a photo in the final of the RTE weather competition, images in national newspapers, several books and even a magazine in Taiwan.
My inspiration is the ever-changing Irish landscape. In the matter of seconds the light can change completely and a dull image can be transformed. Photography, for me, is all about looking at life in a different way. The mundane can become beautiful if you just get a certain angle or the right light.
I’m at my happiest when I’m off exploring; finding new places, talking to animals, capturing candid event photos. There is beauty all around us if you just stop and look. It doesn’t matter what camera you have, make the most of what you’ve got. Phone cameras are fantastic these days and in fact my ‘famous’ photo, which went viral and had me trending on Twitter, was taken on a phone!
A lot of my work is documenting arts projects, I love this work, it gives me a chance to chat to people of all ages and walks of life and inspires me. I’ve spent a lot of time taking photographs of hands so there’s a seed of an idea there…watch this space.
Thanks so much Val. If you happened to be in St. John’s Hospital, Sligo you can see the Art Wall, images by Val chosen by the residents. You can also see some of her work on the windows of the old ESB building, Castle Street. Online you can find Val at her blog page magnumlady.com