Who am I? What a deep question! I promise it’s not quite as philosophical as it sounds!
In the first post I rambled on about the reasons why I started a blog, being accountable for my own creativity yadda yadda! (Hopefully you read it and if not, shame on you!) So in this blog post I thought I better tell you a little about me, my photography background and how I got started in the photography industry. So sit back, get comfortable as this could be a very long blog post!
‘A long time ago in a galaxy far far…’ wait that’s not right! It was definitely a long time ago that I began my journey in the world of photography but, sadly, not in a galaxy far far away. If we are going all the way back though, the story actually began when my stepfather gave me my first camera at about the age of 11. It was a small Praktica BMS electronic 35mm film camera, very basic but it taught me the technical stuff, aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc. It was a tactile experience, you were fully involved, from loading the film to the feeling of physically winding each frame on after you had taken each shot. I would photograph anything and everything I could and was immediately hooked on creating images and the nervous excitement of waiting to get images back from the lab. This was the pre digital era, when I first started remember! Oh the good ol’ days before digital! I am showing my age now though!
I was very lucky and always knew I wanted to work in the creative industry so I geared all my education towards that goal. It was quite a conventional educational path, at the time, GCSEs, A Levels, BTEC Art and Design Foundation Course and then a BA HONS Visual Communications degree from the University of Central England (now BCU) in the UK. University was great and definitely expanded my creative and visual knowledge of photography as well as many other mediums, but it was assisting commercial photographers where I actually began to learn the most about the industry of photography.
I assisted on a freelance basis for a very long time (possibly too long but that’s another story), over 10 years, and developed a large network of commercial advertising and portrait photographers who I was fortunate enough to work with. I worked my way up the ranks from studio tea boy up to First Assistant on large advertising jobs of all different types, with some amazing photographers, amazing clients (Manchester United, Aston Villa, Land Rover, Speedos, Sainsburys and Adidas to name drop a few), amazing advertising agencies and all sorts of other amazing people (celebrities, sports stars, rich and famous and the not so rich and famous). Wow! Lots of ‘amazings’ in there I know but it’s true it was amazing and I loved every minute of it.
Assisting might not be the first thought for aspiring photographers these days but it taught me so much! You are learning not only the technical elements about lighting, composition and attention to detail (As I said when I first started we were shooting on transparency film so everything had to be perfect in camera. Something that I try and carry forward into my digital photography work now), but also about the complex business of advertising photography and how it all works. The scale of the productions , all the planning, problem solving and the teams that go into the big shoots not to mention the post production aspects can all be very complex. It’s a business that is constantly changing and evolving and is very different now to when I first started out in good and bad ways (I feel another blog subject looming!), but being involved in these shoots was an invaluable learning experience.
The biggest thrill though that has come from working in advertising photography is that I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world doing something that I love. So many countries, but Jamaica, Norway and Cambodia have to be up there as personal highlights of places I have been. I met some more ‘amazing people’ there too! Not so much in Norway though. we were so far north in the Lofoten Islands that seeing people was pretty rare but we did get lucky and saw the Northern Lights. They weren’t very bright, and I am the first to admit the picture I got isn’t great (3am, half asleep, camera balanced on a rock because all tripods were buried under mountains of kit) but I got ‘a shot’ and still one of the most surreal and unforgettable experiences of my life seeing them with my own eyes.
I digress… I wouldn’t say that there was a specific time and date when I started doing more of my own work and less assisting, it was just a natural evolution. Having assisted for a long time, I had made some great contacts and connections and I started shooting models for model agencies, building up my own portfolio of interesting people and subjects and I started booking more clients of my own. The assisting began to slow down which naturally happens when photographers see you booking your own jobs, you become the competition I guess, and I was out on my own! Bit dramatic maybe but true ha ha!
That kind of brings us upto present day. I have given you the quick synopsis of a lot of years really but now I am lucky enough to be my own boss, doing a job that I love, meeting lots of interesting people and working with incredible clients like New Balance and Anita Lingerie (I have included an image from one of the Anita Lingerie shoots. This whole shoot deserves its own blog post as it is, quite possibly, the most rewarding and emotional job I have ever done).
I can certainly say that there aren’t many days the same as commercial photographer, which I love and I wouldn’t change what I do for anything. I just hope it continues and I am lucky enough to get a lot more years working in this exciting industry and hopefully create even more images that I am proud of through the rest of my career. I am still so passionate about image making! It gives me a buzz to create new work and explore different ideas both commercially and artistically so long may it continue!
Anyway… I hope that you’re still awake and I haven’t bored you to tears taking a little trip down memory lane with me. Hopefully I have given you a quick glimpse into my background and how I managed to get to the here and now. I might have to bring it up to date with the next blog post and maybe talk about one of the shoots I have coming up in the next couple of weeks but for now thanks for reading and look out for the next blog post!