Self Portrait
 

How did I get into photography?

 

I was born in London in 1982, within the sound of the Bow bells to be precise, and as soon as I arrived there was a power cut. Take that how you want...

Since then I think I have always been a photographer, maybe not always a good one, but a photographer nonetheless.

As a child, the first camera I ever had was a point and shoot 35 mm. I still remember going with my parents to buy it, and then carefully rationing my 36 frames to last through the whole of summer camp, getting them developed a few months later. I think that was when I fell in love with photography.
By my late teens I had progressed onto an SLR - a Pentax K1000 (well I did say it was a similar story) - although I still didn't know a whole lot about photography and exposures. This meant that sometimes the results were not quite the shiny, beautiful ones I had pictured in my head. However the inspiration and vision was definitely there.
Fast forward another ten or so years; add the internet; add a hunger for knowledge; add a few photographer friends around me; add a job with steady pay that let me buy cameras and bulk rolls of film: this is when I really started to learn about photography. And I haven't stopped since…

As I evolved as a photographer, my passion, ideas & creativity became influenced and intertwined with several major aspects of my life.
Two of my most important traits - or habits if you like - (three if you count the obvious love of riding bikes), stem from my years spent working as a cycle courier in central London. During this period I developed a strong curiosity regarding the individuality of human beings; encountering many, many people whilst pedaling across the city. Their personal identities and quirks; the subcultures they are involved in; everything that makes each of us completely different from one another, became fascinating for me as I watched them go about their daily lives.
Couriering also gave me a thick skin for working in all weathers. And I mean ALL! Sun, rain, snow, fog, hot or cold - I rode in them all, and I will shoot in them all, and (mostly) enjoy it. Each form of weather seems to have its own unique way of turning something mundane into the most amazing subject for a photograph. For example, to me London looks at its best when it's been raining all day, skies are low and grey, and my camera is loaded with black and white film - but that’s just me, and like with any art form, we all see things differently. As my three year old daughter once said ‘you say black, I say red. OK daddy?’ It's a funny old game… 

Over recent years these traits have merged with a social and political awareness that was encouraged in our family whilst I was growing up (what with it being the 80's I guess) - something that has stuck with me to this day, inspiring many of my personal projects. In fact my first published news images were of a cycle demonstration. Having seen very little coverage in the mainstream media of the issue that sparked the coming protest, I felt a duty to go down and shoot it, especially as I had just recovered from a serious cycle accident myself. I went on to sell an image directly to a photo desk, and had it published the following week. Interestingly, some of my landscape and portrait projects also stem from either social or environmentally related issues, despite the final product appearing a lot less related to the initial source of inspiration.

In 2012 I decided to organise and hold my first solo exhibition titled "Step Into My Office". Shot whilst couriering, this was a photographic study of my perception of the city, and it’s general populous. A demonstration if you like, that you only see what you want to see, and that a lot of the time in London people only really want to see their destination. I believe we miss so much when we do this - you should never forget about the journey, especially as a photographer. And what ended up as a five month journey, was a major eye opener for me, and at times felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew. Six venues in five months was a lot for one person to organise, from launch night events; advertising and social media campaigns; framing; hanging and takedowns. But, the rewards were immense and the feeling of selling my first prints, and having my photo published on the cover of the East London Photomonth program, are one's that I shall never forget.

Ultimately, no matter what I’m doing photography-wise, whether mulling over a new portrait project, or shooting unit stills on a beach in the middle of winter; I constantly draw on all of these traits and experiences, and they have enabled me to enjoy and successfully operate in many areas of the photographic world. From working seamlessly with a film crew on set; staying focused in an edgy situation when shooting journalism; appreciating the beautiful side of concrete in architecture and urban landscapes; patiently watching, waiting, or finding the moment when shooting street photography; or just bringing the real person out from behind the modern city dwellers mask, that most of us wear on a daily basis. Then it's just down to successfully capturing it all through the camera. 

And after all that, if I have to be honest, I still don't really like having my own photograph taken.
But that’s good because it means I know how my subjects feel, and they feel just like me when I'm on that side of the camera.

Now relax and say cheese……………