Today we meet Anne Maningas, also known as version3point1, who lives in North West London.
At daytime, Anne has made one of her dreams turn into reality and is driving trains for the world’s most famous public transport network: The London Underground.
By night she is an avid photographer and artist who publishes her amazing work here on Flickr.
She was recently featured in the Mega-cities exhibition of the Leeds College of Art and was part of Out of Uniform, a project of fellow artists working for the London Underground.
Anne, what did get you started on photography? Have you always been an avid photographer or was there some trigger?
For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed looking at photographs as well as taking them. My mother was a keen photographer, with boxes upon boxes of photographs she had taken throughout her teens and early adult life, not to mention many of the family photographs. I had a rather traumatic growing up, which makes me quite anxious and forgetful, and one of my biggest fears is not being able to remember stuff or things that happen to me, the little adventures one has in life.
I started taking pictures as a sort of visual diary, firstly with disposable cameras, and then when my mother felt I could be trusted with it, her old Pentax ME Super film camera. This is where the Tube steps in really; my mother always used to take me out on it a lot as a child and I just became obsessed with the place. In the one place that feels like absolute chaos to some people, I find it quite therapeutic, and when I was old enough to travel on the Underground by myself, I would escape to it on weekends, camera in tow. It’s a wonderful way to discover London when you’re young.
The London Underground (or "the Tube" as we sometimes call it) has always played an important part in my life
Whilst I was at school, with my obsession for the Tube still in full swing, it was the source of much inspiration, and I must say that I ended up becoming a bit of a London Underground enthusiast. There’s always something to photograph because it’s always a visual environment; from scenes that could come from a movie, to our world famous typeface designed by Edward Johnston used on all our signage, there’s something about it that draws you in, and this year, the London Underground is 150 years old! So it is adorned with heritage as well as the era of new and modern design. All of that drew me in, and yes – it meant I wanted to become a part of London’s busiest public transport system.
So when I finished school, at 18, I applied to work for the firm and I’ve never looked back since. I work with, and have worked with, some wonderful individuals, and in my six years working for the company, I’ve found myself with many stories to tell, but also carrying stories and legends from those who joined in the 1970s and ’80s, many of whom are now retiring after serving so many years for London Transport.
It sounds a lot like it’s a dream job for you. Do you think your work has a strong influence on your photography or vice versa?
My day job of driving trains on the world’s oldest underground railway line does influence my photography somewhat as it makes you appreciate the lighting that you have available to you. Not being able to use flash (and for those who question why – it can cause a temporary blinding or partial loss of sight when I emerge from a tunnel and I am trying to stop my train in the correct place on a platform, so please avoid it if you can!) means always shooting wide open if I can, and one of my favourite lenses (if I’m carrying my big camera around) is a 35mm f1.4.
I do, however, use a variety of digital and film cameras, depending on my mood or what I’m already carrying (my work bag is full of bulky, heavy equipment that I require to carry out my daily duties). I do love instant film at the moment though and the immediate gratification it provides, giving me the nostalgia of film without the wait. Our in-house Employee Communications department also used to like some of the day-to-day pictures I used to take of my colleagues and now and again I get given assignments by them, and that’s all part of preserving our rich company heritage.
When did you first hear about us and what made you make Flickr the home for your photos?
I discovered Flickr by complete accident when I was still at school, back in 2005. I love Flickr because it’s a wonderful place to share stories and memories, the one thing that I am scared of losing, and I feel that Flickr is helping me keep those stories and memories. There are many people interested in the Tube here on Flickr that sometimes get in touch because they want to ask a question about something or simply want to share something with me, and one of my closest friends, Martin Deutsch, I first met at a Flickr meet hosted by the London Transport Museum!
I am inspired by literally hundreds of Flickr members and groups, but if I had to pick just one, it would have to be fellow Londoner, 333Bracket. Whenever she updates her stream, I feel like I’m picking up one of my favourite books. She mainly uses film, which I respect her massively for, given the convenience of digital, but there’s just something about her and her storytelling with the images that I love immensely. She captures what I fear forgetting about: The Little Things.
Before we wrap up, what is your "secret ingredient" for taking photos?
My one tip for someone just picking up photography is to enjoy what you discover and learn because you never really stop learning. There are some amazingly talented people here on Flickr, and it would be impossible to thank everybody, but I have learned so much about photography here.
If you see something that catches your eye that you want to save forever, then that is your starting ingredient for a recipe. What you choose to make is up to you.
Anne, thanks for taking the time to share your story with us.