For many years, my grandfather walked the Lake District and Scotland’s Borders, capturing the landscape on early colour transparency film. My father, too, produced a fine collection of photographs documenting life in West Africa.
So it was hardly surprising that I inherited a passion for photography.
In my early years, I could often be seen cycling around my village, using the camera my grandfather had given me to snap the people and scenes that caught my interest.
Art or Science?
At the time I studied photography at Gloucestershire College of Art and Design, professional practice was generally considered to be a craft rather than an art form. This meant that much of the three year’s study was taken up with scientific technique, the physics of optics and light control, plus the chemistry of silver halide technology. Compositional and other artistic matters were important but, in keeping with many other artists, I found the technical grounding has given me the understanding required to successfully develop artistic style over ensuing years.
Weddings and other professional practice
In following employments, I was employed as a professional landscape photographer, producing large format images for books, calendars and picture postcards and a little later joined a wedding photography agency as a freelancer.
In those days, wedding photography was usually provided to a fixed formula, covering a period only a little longer than the ceremony itself. While it was fun, the creative approaches that I can enjoy with wedding photography today were rarely encouraged! However, the formula remains as a reminder of essential aspects of the wedding that should be included.
Today, I hope you will agree that my style is much more that of a loaded, free-flowing brush, than painting-with-numbers.
Helping others with their photography
For a considerable period I was involved with various aspects of supplying photographic equipment to the UK market – including working directly with enthusiasts, encouraging them to learn about the equipment and ways to get the best from it.
From this, it was a natural progression to take up occasional part-time teaching posts, helping adult students to develop their skills in photography (also graphic design, with which I have shared around 20 years of professional work, alongside photography).
Pioneering digital photography
In the early 1990s, I travelled to a major Paris studio to learn about the newly emerging digital technology, then was among the pioneers of digital imaging in the UK, producing some of the earliest published digital photography and giving demonstrations to photographers throughout Scotland and England.
A series of monochrome portraits, which I shot in Edinburgh, are thought to be the first instantaneous digital portraits taken in the UK.
Following around thirty years in the photographic and media industry, I moved to the Isle of Lewis, to pursue my vocation, creating novel images of people and places and enjoying the unique light that illuminates the Western Isles. It’s a special pleasure to be recommended by clients to their family, friends and associates – quite often the weddings I complete are for sisters, cousins, aunts and nieces!