Nov 10, 2008

An Interview With Tam Ryan

Visit here See Tam's Photo Albums on Americymru here

You've travelled three times to Wales to take photographs - why Wales?

The reason I visited Wales in 2002 was influenced by two people whom I met through an International Forum in 1999 and 2000 and another person in 2002 through a personal email. My friends took me to places that were important to my interest in old world architecture and the beautiful countryside. If it were not for those friends, Fiona and her husband, Alan, from Pontarddulais, JJ and Sue Pritchard from Pontypridd and Graham and Tina Jones from Mumbles, my first DVD “Welcome to Wales” would not have been possible. My Welsh friends made that DVD possible by showing me the sights, sounds and hospitality of the Welsh people. They have, truly, lived up to the Welsh motto, "A warm welcome awaits you in Wales."

What was most memorable to you about each of your visits?

Of course, being able to photograph so many interesting, historic and beautiful scenic sights was a photographer’s dream come true. Though, meeting such nice people in Wales who had opened their homes and friendship to me was memorable and very special to me. In 2002, while staying with Fiona and Alan in Laugharne, we visited many sites. We went to The Eisteddfod at Saint David’s that year, as well. This was my first experience at an Eisteddfod and I went again in 2006 with friends, David and Sally whom i met via our Welsh League newsletter. We camped out at the Eisteddfod campground the night before the ceremony where they were to receive their awards as Welsh language learners. David and Sally and I drove to see Pentre Ifan standing stones in the Preseli Hills. They were very gracious hosts and I appreciate all they did to make my visit memorable. I stayed with Fiona and Alan again in August 2006 and we saw The National Botanic Garden of Wales, Aberaeron, The Brecon Beacons, Aberystwyth, Aberglasney Gardens, Llanelli Wildlife Refuge. We, also, went to The Eisteddfod just down the road from where they live. Some of the sights I saw in 2002 with Graham and Tina from Mumbles were Pennard Castle, Oxwich Castle, Mumbles Castle and Langland Bay. To see these images, please visit my Photo Albums on my profilepage on Americymru. The sights that I saw with JJ and Sue Pritchard in 2002 were Pontypridd Bridge, Rhondda Fach and Llanwonno Church.

In 2003, I rented an apartment for a month in Cardiff. It was there that i met one of my other new contacts in Wales, Miranda Morton, who works for the Welsh Assembly Government. i visited with her at the Eisteddfod where she was tending to a charity booth there in 2003 and in 2006. Areas in West Wales that I visited with my friend, Marjorie, from Llangadog, were Carreg Cennen, Tenby, Aberystwyth, Carmarthen, Llandovery, Llandeilo, Aberaeron, Ammanford and Dinefwr Castle. i met Marjorie Hughes in 2003 on the National Express Bus on my way into Wales.

You're returning in 2009, where are you planning to visit on this next trip and what do you hope to accomplish?

My plan is to visit North Wales for the first time for a week or two. I have an invitation to stay with a contact from Wrexham who runs a production company for young people. I, also, plan on visiting South and West Wales where i have friends in Neath, Mumbles, Cardiff, Pontarddulais, Port Talbot, Pontypridd, Pontyclun and Llangadog. My intention is to create another DVD of Wales to include South, Mid, West and North Wales.

What is the source of your attachment to Wales?

I have some ancestry from Wales. Though, my attachment to Wales evolved into a longing – Hiraeth – for the country after meeting my new found friends whom I had met on the International Forum online and from other friends whom I met while visiting in 2002, 2003 and 2006. Once I arrived in Wales, it was as if I had come home and felt the Hiraeth that everyone from Wales experiences.

What is your business?

A Warm Welcome Awaits You in Wales! Journey through Wales on a photographic tour from the perspective of a Freelance Photographer from Arizona, USA. Two DVD's of Wales are available in NTSC and PAL formats: "Welcome to "Wales' and "Wales - A Warm Welcome." To purchase please

Does the content of each of your DVD’s reflect the two trips you took - i.e. the, first DVD contains pix and music from first trip, second DVD pix and music from second trip?

The content of my first DVD “Welcome to Wales” is reflected in the photos and music from my trip to Wales in 2002 and 2003 in South Wales. The second DVD, “Wales – A Warm Welcome” reflects the photos of Wales from my trip in August and September 2006.

How did you come to have the choir music on the first DVD - did you meet them on the trip?

I met Glyn Thomas from the Côr Meibion Rhôs Cwmtawe (The Rhôs Male Voice Choir) in Mumbles in 2002 during the Maritime Festival on 13 August. I exchanged emails with Glyn Thomas and I stayed in contact with Glyn and his wife, Linda via emails until i went back to Wales again in 2003. Glyn had given me a copy of a music CD performed by Côr Meibion Rhôs Cwmtawe that year and i later asked permission to use the music for my first DVD of Wales. After i got that permission, it took about another year to get the copyright permissions to use the music from the publishers. That is when i created my Wales DVD website. After the concert in August 2002, i spoke with several of the members of the choir and had my picture taken with them. See picture of me with a few of the members of Côr Meibion Rhôs Cwmtawe here:

Members of Côr Meibion Rhôs Cwmtawe.Tam Ryan standing to
the right of Glyn Thomas, a friend and member of the choir.

How did you meet Russell Sheppard and his music on your second DVD?

I learned about Russell Sheppard and his music after being introduced to him by my friend, Huw Davies, on Live Video. After I saw him play the acoustic guitar and we added each other as “Friends” on that site, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind if i used his music for my newest DVD “Wales – A Warm Welcome.” He said yes as well as saying that he would be honored to showcase his music with my photography of Wales. I was thrilled to have found such a talented musician who’s music would be so appropriate for my new DVD of South, Mid and West Wales.

How did you come to start this business?

I had learned how to use a slide show program in a computer class. It then dawned on me that this would be a great way to showcase and share my photography and love of Wales.

What are your goals for your business, where would you like to go with it?

I plan on continuing to create more DVD’s of Wales and possibly to add more products to sell such as photo prints and framed photos. My photos of Wales are available to any business for use in advertising or publication in magazines or books. If possible, I would like to live and work in Wales as a photographer for the Wales Tourist Board.

Do you have education or training or experience as a professional photographer prior to this?

I am self-taught, though, I did take a Black & White photography class in the 1980’s and I learned how to develop film and make prints in the darkroom. That led to a part-time job for six months working for a local newspaper in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I have had many photos used for local magazines and some brochures in Lake Havasu. I have done some wedding photography in the past. Here is a link to my first website where you can see some of my photography in the US, read a Bio about me and see a list of the credits and awards that I have received:

What kind of camera do you use? Do you take only digital pix or digital and analog? What software do you use to edit?

I have been using a Nikon D-40 digital camera since July 2006. I have several lenses that are between 28mm – 200 mm. i have several photo software programs that i use: ArcSoft Software Suite (Photo Studio 4.0), PictureIt and PhotoShop.

You're a member of the Welsh League of Arizona, how long have you been a member and how did you come to be a member?

I have been a member of Welsh League of Arizona since 2005. I went to the Scottish Highland Games in Mesa, Arizona one year and met some of the members of the Welsh League where they had a tent set up. That is where I first found out about their Welsh language classes, as well. I joined the Welsh League and the Welsh class about a year after I first met the group at the Highland Games. As a photographer, I offered to take pictures of our monthly meetings and the festivals in which we participate.

How large is the Welsh League of Arizona and what does it do?

We hold meetings on the first Saturday of every month in Phoenix at the Irish Cultural Center that is located off of 1st and Central Avenue. For more information about our league, please visit our website at: You can see all of the photos I have taken from our monthly meetings and the festivals and other events that we have from the ‘badge’ on the Home page of our website. When we meet for our monthly meetings, we may have a guest speaker, author, Story Teller, John Good and Steve Colby of Ocean’s Apart perform for us, show a movie, celebrate Saint David’s Day and Dylan Thomas’ birthday, Pub Quiz event and many other interesting and informative gatherings.

You're studying Welsh - where are you studying it and how long have you been studying?

Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix, Az.

I have been studying Welsh with John and Carwyn since May 2005. Though, I did start studying a little bit at the end of 1999 and part of 2000 when my friend, JJ, from Pontypridd, sent me a CD language program for beginners. It’s called EuroTalk, TalkNow! This is the program that helped me learn how to pronounce Welsh.

Tell me about your classes, where do you study, how often, who teaches, how many students?

John Good and Carwyn Edwards are my Welsh language teachers. The class is held every Tuesday evening from 6pm – 9pm at the IrishCultural Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The number of students varies from semester to semester. We have had as many as ten students during our weekly classes.

What made you choose to study Welsh?

When I received a Welsh language CD from my friend, JJ, from Pontypridd, which sparked my interest in learning "The Language of Heaven."

What are your goals as a Welsh speaker?

I hope to become fluent in Welsh and to be able to use the it while visiting. If I ever move to Wales, it would be important to me to be able to converse in Welsh in communities and to speak it with some of my fluent Welsh friends.

Should other people study Welsh? Why?

If a person has an interest in learning other languages, i think that Welsh would be an excellent language to start with. Of course, it helps if you have an interest in Wales and the Celtic cultures.

What advice would you give to beginning learners?

Don’t give up! Keep learning a little bit every day and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You would be surprised how much a fluent Welsh speaker will understand you and how appreciative they will be that you are trying to communicate with them in their native language.

What role do you think a site like americymru can play in promoting an understand of Wales?

Americymru is the only networking site that I have seen that has so much to offer for those interested in Wales and its culture and the Welsh language. The links, forum discussions, blogs, groups, as well as many other pertinent subjects on Wales and the Welsh are what make this website THE best place to learn about Wales and its culture.

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