What am I about? Well it’s a good question and one I think about fairly regularly.. I used to be about music and engineering, at one time I was an A&R guy for U2’s record label and also studying for a PhD in computational engineering (after working as a research technologist for GEC for five years). I’ve run a small magazine in Aberdeen and ran an unsigned band night at the Hacienda. I’ve had a ‘life changing’ serious accident (something messy about removing vertebrae – not something worth thinking about too much) and named my cat after a Stoke on Trent footballer.
I was interested in photography when I was about 12, I had a Zenith E SLR and won a black and white print prize but sold my camera when I was 13 to buy a Acorn Atom (the precursor to the BBC B microcomputer). I changed careers to become a web developer and have worked on web strategy for the Daily Mirror, Sporting Life, British Airways, ASDA, Amazon and many others. I’m a programmer more than a designer but I’ve a fair hand at most skills to do with building a website.
In 2007 my wife and family bought me a photography holiday in the Hebrides with David Ward so that I could make the most of the Canon 5D that I had bought 6 months previously. Unfortunately this ended up with me becoming an obsessive compulsive luddite with a penchant for antiquarian camera equipment. To be more accurate, I became a convert to large format photography and bought an Ebony 4×5 view camera, a work of art in of itself.
For the last year (October 2007 to October 2008) I’ve spent my spare time trying to understand the intricacies of large format photography and, more importantly, the skills of photographic composition.
The large format camera seems like a step backward, with it’s glass plate focusing screen, leather bellows and geared focusing; not exposure meter and a total weight for a backpack of nearly 40lbs, but strangely it has many advantages over any other photography form. Most of these advantages are to do with control over the process and quality of the result but it also has to do with a forced change in the taking of pictures..
In the last year I’ve taken a total of 120 pictures .. I used to take this many in an afternoon! However, out of those 120 pictures I like over 80 of them and I consider 5 or 6 of them to perfectly capture the vision I had at the time of taking them – what more can a photographer ask for.
Why do I take photographs? Another very difficult question. The answer is that when I am out in the field with my camera, I feel more like myself than at any other time. I don’t feel relaxed especially (and often I’m fairly stressed) but there is the feeling you have when you tackle a difficult crossword and complete it only in the photographic sense, the correct answer is only in your own head. I also take photographs because I’ve realised that it’s the best way to see the world. The practise of photography forces you to really look at things and to engage with the wind, clouds, tide, sun, season, and to begin to understand them – if only in a transitory way. The results contain more than you could absorb at the time and to journey around a landscape afresh each time you look closely at a photograph is a pleasure.
What am I trying to achieve with my photography? Financial success? No not really, the demands of making money out of photography would transform things in a way I wouldn’t dare risk. Fame? Unlikely, and as a modern day hermit I wouldn’t enjoy it even if it were remotely possible. Change the world? I’d be better off doing charity work. At the end of the day my photography is about learning; learning to see, learning to take pictures, learning about other photographers. This process also becomes a conversation with other photographers (who tend to be a nice bunch mostly) and this engagement is satisfying in itself.
In my spare time I also work on a few websites for people I admire.. I’ve created a website for David Ward, Nigel Halliwell and have a few more lined up for launch next year. Maybe at some point I’ll write a book or start some sort of business based around photography.
I’m happy to sell some of my work (if anybody is in the slightest bit interested) and I’ve also worked on a commission before now and would be open to discuss this type of work again.
I hope you enjoy what I’ve created and if you have any comments about favourite pictures I’d love to know about them (use the contact form or send me an email directly if you like).