Location: Oxford, London
What made you get into photography?
My dad’s old Rollei was something I played with when I was very young. I loved the mechanics of it – the “clunck” and whirs and feel of the motion when the shutter was pressed. It was a very tactile experience. I started taking photos from there but only really started my love affair with making images a decade later with my first SLR. Medium format and the darkroom followed, and the magic of a real handheld control of my printing fascinated me. With the move to digital I discovered my niche was portraits, and that’s when there was no turning back.
How would you describe your photography style?
When I started shooting people it was studio based, I’d been encouraged by my girlfriend to push myself and it was something I always wanted to try. The first time I pressed the shutter without a trigger attached the lights didn’t fire, creating a black/blank image, I realized the awesome power of being able to totally have power over the shot. My style grew from there; initially with fashion and beauty shots, and then into the alternative market. I’d like to think we’re on the verge of seeing alternative hit the mainstream in a big way. I’m hoping my work bridges the gap between the stark edgy looks of traditional alt imagery, and something a bit softer that celebrates form, tone, and mood more.
Any photographers or artists that you looked up to that helped influence your style?
Well the obvious two are Cartier-Bresson (the idea of timing being key to making the perfect image) and Ansel Adams (for teaching me about depth of field!). My style comes from our mainstream media and the imagery which we are saturated with. However, looking at your backlog of photographers, I’m seeing a few names that keep me on my toes and love their work. Joseph O’Brien, of course, is someone who keeps me looking at my work and thinking, “Dammit! Why didn’t I see that?!”. It’s looking at other’s work – anyone’s work – that keeps us learning and desiring to create more, to challenge ourselves and keep the work fresh and enjoyable.
Did you study photography in school or are you self-taught?
I was encouraged to do sensible things at school and didn’t know how much I was going to love it, so I didn’t push myself. “Self-taught” simplifies it too much! Yes I didn’t have formal training, but I wasn’t alone in learning – if that makes any sense? I believe we should, as togs, always be looking and talking to one another about our work. That’s what keeps the field interesting.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about starting a photography business?
Having the balls to stick with it when no one is booking you. By stepping out the door and still enjoying whatever you’re doing and choosing to be around positive influences it can get you through the toughest days. I’ve been lucky, it’s been a hobby that’s grown and from those little acorns I’m hoping big things have grown. I’ve only ever wanted to create some images with “gravitas” (I love that word!) and of the 1000 or so images I’m proud of I hope someone thinks there’s 1 that stand the test.
What do you love most about being a photographer?
I had a conversation with another photographer recently, Vanessa Paxton based in Toronto, I asked about an image and what she was trying to convey. She couldn’t tell me. She said, “If I could tell you, I wouldn’t have been able to make the image.”. That’s what I love, unless I’m creating something like a catalog shot or showing off a model’s potential, I love that this is how I convey my inner most fears and desires. The images I make have grown over time to capture something of both me and the subject. It’s that collaboration that excites – the shot is only as good as the relationship you form with your subject, whatever or whomever that is.