When you’ve been unemployed for as long as I have you have a lot of time to sit and think about what you want to be doing with your life. Even more so when you’ve reached the age of 40 and are feeling slightly older and more decrepit than you used to!
Photography has always been a passion of mine. From my days in the chemical laden dark room of the London College of Printing and Newham Community College, I have always enjoyed the art of capturing an image of a moment in time, whether that is an event or a static object which captures the imagination. Then you move into the dark room, fumble around a lot trying to get the film out of its canister and into the developing tub hoping that no light has managed to creep in and onwards to the print production stage. Burning, dodging and other tricks later with a torn piece of paper to control exposure and
hopefully you have something you are proud of when you emerge, blinking, from the dark room a few hours later. The whole process was fascinating, frustrating and enjoyable in equal measure.
But photography was just part of my graphic design course and the point of it all was to prepare you in a multitude of skills so that you could later specialise once you had worked out what you wanted to do. I wanted to be a magazine designer. The way words and pictures were laid out on the screen was the real art that I empathised with and was drawn to. I loved the challenge of making a copy editors words fit in a space too small for their creative output. I loved selecting an image that best fit those words. Photography became a background hobby that i indulged myself in over the years with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
When the world went digital I, like millions of others had a myriad of digital camera’s over the years as they improved and progressed. Ultimately I got my first DSLR (a Nikon D70) and that was the end of point and shoot. I was back, albeit digitally, in the world of advanced processing and development and loving it more than I thought I would. I would disappear off my with my trusty old D70 at every opportunity and it soon became more of a staple in my commuting bag than my travel card. Yes, there were days when i forgot the damn travel card but remembered the camera. Something was clearly misfiring in my brain. I captured (badly) sunsets on the river Thames as I walked to Waterloo Station from Old Street where I worked, I captured protests in the City of London and then, rather famously, I captured the moment the coalition negotiators stepped out onto the pavement in front of the cabinet office and announced to the world that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats had formed a government. Many of the other snappers had scarpered with their expensive gear down the road to Downing Street to see Gordon Brown leave and I just stayed put using the extra feet of advantage I had gained to get me closer to the door and the view I wanted. It paid off. Lets just say that those shots were the first that I ever made money from and paid for some nice shiny kit.
Since that day I have been addicted. My kit list has grown ridiculously to an extent where I am borderline obsessive about lenses and processing equipment but more importantly the passion has grown too and so has my ability to take better photos. I am a student of photography learning all the time. Any photographer who says they know it all is a liar frankly. Its an artform that continually challenges and pushes you as an artist and we will never know all it holds.
So here I am at the age of (almost) 41 with a photography website that showcases my work to date, a shop that sells prints of my events and art prints, a (sort of) career working for the local newspaper taking shots at local sporting events and a blog talking about my experiences to date. Maybe someone out there will find it useful as they navigate their way trying to make it as a photographer. Maybe they won’t. At the end of the day these are just my thoughts and ramblings and a way to explain the art that I make.