MARK Worrall, 41, is a photographer and specialist study skills tutor. He provided the photographs for this year’s official Swindon calendar. Mark lives in Swindon with his partner, artist David Robinson.

EVERY image in the official 2017 Swindon calendar is as nature intended and devoid of trickery.

“I don’t do any Photoshopping,” said Mark Worrall.

“That’s partly because I’m a bit of a technophobe and it’s going to take me a while to get used to how to use that kind of software.

“But more than that, I actually enjoy really getting the picture right from the lens as I’m there, rather than taking it at a whim, going back, Photoshopping, getting it corrected.

“The only thing I do do is a little bit of editing, and that’s cropping.”

Mark is originally from Birmingham, where his mother and father met in the chocolate fondant section of the Cadbury factory where they worked.

Mark’s father later worked as an electrician in the dairy industry, while his mother retired due to a back problem.

The budding photographer’s first pictures were taken with a disc camera, the now largely forgotten 1980s format whose images were exposed onto tiny pieces of film at the points of a revolving snowflake shape. Mark later graduated to a 35mm SLR.

“Photography was my form of escapism, really, because I have dyslexia which was completely undiagnosed until about six years ago.

“I went through all my schooling, all my education, university, everything, without it being picked up. That can happen, and especially back then in the Eighties when it wasn’t really considered.

“I found school to be particularly difficult, especially reading, English classes and maths. I was in a grammar school, so there was even more pressure, but from peers more than anybody else.

“Photography was just something that I was naturally good at. We had a particularly atypical, horrible arts teacher who was quite bullyish, but I always remember that he looked at one of the photos I’d taken and held it up in front of the class as an exemplar. He gave it an A-plus and said, ‘You need to develop this and really work on it because you’ve got an eye for it.’”

Some of Mark’s educational work today is with people who have dyslexia, and he is a strong believer in the work of the British Dyslexia Association.

Mark studied archaeology at university and worked as a field archaeologist for several years. Volunteer work with vulnerable people led to him becoming involved in education. He moved to Cardiff following a stint of travel in Australia.

He and his partner moved to Swindon about four years ago. One of the reasons was the convenience of its location – his partner was based in Oxford at the time and Mark in Cardiff.

“That aside, Swindon has a lot to offer, especially in the arts and cultural scene. We take part in Swindon Open Studios every year, where artists open their doors.

“We put together the Made in Swindon Arts Trail for the Swindon 175 celebrations. That was a month-long trail, a celebration if you like, of different artists’ work, going all the way from the old Railway Works through New Town up to Old Town, with the idea of linking the three places together and creating some sort of fluidity between them.”

And the photography?

“For me it was always just about going out there, seeing what I liked, thinking about how photos could work and trying to make the ordinary interesting and dynamic.

“Because reading wasn’t my forte, if you like, I didn’t really study photography. It was just a hobby. I took a break from it for a while and then, about six or seven years ago, I started taking it up again.

“I went on a photography course in Cardiff and started to really develop and hone my skills.

“The calendar is the third one that I’ve done. I just used to do a small number and sell them on the Christmas market. I got talking to Dawn Osborne who works at Swindon Tourist Information Centre. I met her at the Arkell’s Christmas Market last year.

“It was through talking to her that we decided to put one together for Swindon this year and to sell it in the Tourist Information Centre at the Central Library.

“So it was really a collaboration. She’s got a team and I’d take photos, send them through and they’d give me feedback.

“But it was all about celebrating Swindon’s gems, because there’s a lot of them and – certainly since living here – we’ve realised that even a lot of people living in Swindon don’t really celebrate what Swindon has to offer.

“It was very much a case of sitting down thinking, ‘What do I admire about Swindon?’ and then talking to the Tourist Information Centre and seeing what they thought Swindon had to offer.

“From that, it was just going out there, taking the pictures and seeing what worked.

“For me, it’s very much about architecture. You’ve got the Murray John tower, and if you walk in Regent Street and look up you can see it’s beautiful architecture all the way down. There’s the Railway Village, the Richard Jefferies Museum – but then it was also about the recreational aspects and the sculptures.”

He has three pieces of advice for people who want to improve their own photography skills.

One is to read about a compositional technique known as the rule of thirds, and another is to try looking at subjects from a child’s perspective, quite low to the ground.

The third?

“Something I was always told is that whenever you take a photograph you should look behind you - because you never know what you might be missing.”

Mark can be reached at