Talking digital photos with Culture24 Museums at Night Flickr photo winner Julie Kertesz

By Ed Sexton | 24 November 2009
a photo of a large nose emerging from a pond

(Above) "Strange things can be seen in Luxembourg garden"

When photographer and silver surfer Julie Kertesz was announced last week as the winner of the Culture24 Museums at Night 2009 Flickr competition, it probably came as no surprise to her friends and online Flickr colleagues who appreciate the 75-year-old's talent for taking a good picture.

The Culture24 competition, which asked amateur photographers to snap away during a Museums at Night event in May 2009, resulted in some lively and striking photographs, not to mention a burgeoning Flickr community of its own.

But it was Julie's photograph of a young couple in the National Portrait Gallery which was voted the best photo of them all.

Taken during a whirlwind visit to the Gallery, the photo is just one of thousands featured on her lively Flickr page, Joy of Life, where Julie shares a love of photography which began five years ago, in 2004, when she was taking writing classes in Paris.

a photo close up of a carousel

"Nuit blanche à Paris"

"They said my French was not good enough and I should try photography where I didn't need the language," explains Julie. "I joined a class and bought myself a digital camera.

"I went to the market and took pictures of what was going on and spoke to people who were there. I would talk about myself and they would tell me about their lives. I felt quite lonely at the time so I really enjoyed the contact – even if it was just a few minutes."

Julie fell in love with photography because it helped her to express herself without using any language at all. Now she takes her camera out whenever she leaves the house.

a photo of medieval city walls and round roofed buidling

"York Sunday..."

She has clocked up 35,000 images on Flickr over the past 5 years, and thousands of people look at her photos every day.

"I find it hard to believe but Flickr tells me it's true," she says. "I love to read the comments and talk to people around the world. The other Flickr users really influence my work."

Julie started blogging in 2005 and found that Flickr was the best way to publish her photos. She is currently heavily involved in a handful of groups and also teaches on the photo-sharing site.

a photo of a person dressed in cream gowns and wig

(Above) Rochester Christmas

"I really like romantic pictures – people holding hands and leaning on each other. Sometimes people who don't seem that interesting at first see that you want to take a photo and begin to beam with warmth and suddenly come alive," she adds.

"I find my inspiration in pictures and paintings that I have seen and I think even without knowing I use things from pictures I have seen in my own photography."

Museums at Night 2009 also encouraged Julie to go out and explore more of the culture on offer in the capital.

a photo with a statue of a man looking skyward in the foreground and canitlevered structure in the background

St Pancras before Christmas

"I have recently discovered the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and have to go back. I went to see an Andre Kertesz exhibition, who I share a name with, at the Photographers Gallery, and they have some good things on show."

If you look at Julie's Flickr photostream, it soon becomes clear that wherever she goes – and she appears to travel all over the country taking photos of interesting places and people – she is someone with a natural eye for a good picture.

Peruse Julie's world on Flickr and explore the Museums at Night winners gallery.

All photographs copyright and courtesy Julie Kertesz

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