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News: 24 June 2019

Volunteer Profile � Helmut Schulenburg
Helmut Schulenburg is one of hundreds of volunteer photographers out and about across England photographing listed buildings for the Images of England project. Here he talks about his love of photography and why Images of England is so special to him.

My interest in photography began at the age of nine when I was given a small box camera. I began to use it to illustrate school essays about the days out I went on. At the age of 19 I joined the Merchant Navy, taking my cameras and darkroom equipment with me. Through seven years at sea, on nine different boats, I was never short of images to capture on film both on board and ashore.

17th Century Barn and Stables, Halford, Warwickshire. IoE Number: 305348 © Helmut Schulenburg Thirty years after my experiences at sea I published over 300 of the photographs I had taken in a book which also features my wife, Susie, who I met at sea when she was one of our passengers on a boat travelling back from Peru. My interest in photography led me to publish other books of my photography including ones featuring the German towns of Potsdam and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Most recently I have collaborated with my son, who is also a keen amateur photographer, to produce a book about the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.

My wife and I moved to England in 1996 and began to explore the local countryside, photographing the beautiful scenery and buildings including many of the local churches. This led us to give illustrated talks about them.
We first read about the Images of England project just after I had finished work on the Stratford Society's Millennium Project to record the historic buildings in the Stratford-upon-Avon conservation area.

Every single photograph I take for Images of England project is a new challenge. It can be difficult to get a good picture and ensure that it is the defining image of the listed building. There have been other challenges in recording England's listed buildings such as the time that I asked the occupier of one building to move 25 cars from his driveway to allow me to get a good photograph. He was so obliging that I was extremely worried about getting the photograph wrong and having to return on another day!
19th Century Milestone, Fosse Way, Warwickshire. IoE Number: 305845 © Helmut Schulenburg
Church of St Edward, Evenlode, Gloucestershire. IoE Number: 130223 © Helmut Schulenburg

I have many good memories of taking photographs for Images of England including the time I was photographing the bridges over the Oxford canal. To reach each one involved a long walk over meadows and lengths of the canal tow path. Luckily on one such walk I managed to beg a lift from a passing narrow boat and spent the mile journey to the next bridge on my list to photograph talking about the project to the interested people on board. Unfortunately on the way back I wasn't so lucky and had a long walk back to my car!

As well as all of the people I meet along the way, most of all I treasure the opportunity the project is giving me to get to know the architecture and history of so many interesting buildings in this beautiful country. Working on this project continues to give me a strong sense of belonging and really makes me feel at home here.

If you are a volunteer photographer and would like to share some of your experiences while working on the Images of England project please send them to Alexandra Saxon:

To view more of Helmut's photographs click here.

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