Find out more about my complete journey into photography, each milestone that has shaped my passion for the art, right from sketching people throughout my childhood to my professional photography career of today.
It all started when I was quite young...
I was born in Reading in 1979 and a few years down the line as a little chap of about 6 years old, I was always doodling on everything around me, I did pencil sketches of faces and characters, I have always been fascinated by people and faces.
By the age of about 8, I was drawing very life like sketches, full cartoon strips and creating large scale versions of my favourite Marvel Comic artwork, The Punisher & Spiderman were my favourites, I just loved to draw people.
I started drawing complete bands on stage, every bit of the gear right down to the exact style of machine heads on the guitars, full cartoon strips turned into cartoon flipbook animations, literally anything and everything that involved people and faces I drew.
Around 1989 aged 10-11 years old, my dad had an old SLR film camera he sometimes used (which I still have) he would baffle me showing me how to use it. I was always really intrigued with the camera and how it worked, but I did not understand it yet.
Developing the prints was captivating, out to the make-shift dark room (know as the garden shed), it seemed so amazing as I watched the images start to appear on the paper after a good swill around in the chemicals, I loved it.
1996 - Studying in the Dark Age of Film
YES FILM! This is where my journey really began.
In 1996 I started Henley Collage to study Photography & Art. I found my love for drawing people quickly turned into a love of photographing people, I gave up art and all my other lessons completely, all I wanted to do was go out and shoot more film,
I was fortunate enough to learn to shoot & develop film and print my own images years before digital made photographers lazy, I say I was fortunate because I learnt so much about light and exposure shooting film, and also editing (yes editing still happened years before Photoshop existed). Learning every element in a more manual way has made me understand exactly what the camera is doing.
This has proved to be some of the most valuable knowledge as a photographer I could learn about the art of light and the effects of exposure. I still rely on what I learnt all those years ago to this day. Being able to read the light, pick up your camera and dial in almost the exact right settings to produce the photo you have in your mind before you click the shutter, is a very desirable skill to have.
I focused my time on photography, shooting roll after roll of film, (people & skateboarding mostly) I learnt to use flash outside, which is quite a skill in itself and I loved it. So much that I now avoided ALL my other classes, choosing to hide out in the dark room from my teachers to develop my films and my prints.
In 1998 after 2 years studying photography and light, I left collage I applied for a job straight away as a Photographer at a local Graphic Design company called RMR Design in lovely Henley on Thames, I got it - Excellent!
Working at RMR I started to learn various digital artwork techniques while sitting with the in-house Graphic Designers, I learnt to manipulate images, change colours, draw texture into photos, some compositing techniques, even some special effects and animation.
At RMR I got really involved with the power of Digital Artwork as I knew it would match perfectly with my style of photography, it made me feel like I could be in total control of an image, I loved that element. It reminded me of being a child again and why I loved drawing so much. The two skills of photography and digital art work in perfect harmony together.
1997 - Gary Numan 'The Exile Tour'
While at a music studio in Reading, I got asked if I could grab my camera and get to Southampton to shoot live show that Saturday, I would be shooting for NJ, a monthly Japanese Music & Fashion publication.
This was my first step into the world of live music photography, and what a first step! Not only would I get to shoot Gary Numan on his Exile Tour, but even better, I also had to shoot backstage for his interview after the show, this meant I would get to meet him too. I was definitely keeping that 'Guest Pass' as a significant flagstone in my photographic journey.
This was such a big moment for me... I was over the moon, so I of course said YES!
I got a lift down in a freezing car with Scott (the interviewer), but it was worth the shivering, Gary put on one hell of a performance, brilliant from start to finish. After the show, I was invited backstage for the interview, I reloaded my camera with a fresh film and was ready to shoot.
Scott got a great interview nailed and I got some great shots of Gary backstage, I even used some coloured gels on a couple of flashes, it gave the dressing room that 'on-stage' look, I really wanted to echo the colourful show we had just seen and it worked great.
Gary was a truly humble and lovely chap. He even made us a nice cuppa tea back at the dressing room, what a legend and an absolute English gentleman.
How many big celebrities would do that for you today?
1998 - Ms. Photo meets Mr. Artwork, pleased to meet you!
I realised I had a real love for this type of work, it was quite like drawing where your only limitation is your imagination, it opened my eyes to photography becoming so much more, it opened many more doors, these skills and new thoughts combined made me think I just had to do what I love and create my own business...
I started to shoot my images with my clients promo uses in mind before we shot anything, planning my shoot based around the advertising needs to ensure the images would fit perfectly. I spent time shooting backgrounds first then the model so I could composite the two images together in post-production.
This method gave me endless possibilities that could be done after the shoot, especially the question I have been asked by clients and photographers at least 1000 times, the model looks amazing, but can we change the background!
So 90% of the time I shoot on a neutral grey background to give myself lots of options after the shoot! Clients really, really like this forward thinking!
I continued to work as a photographer and digital artist both freelance and for a handful of companies, working freelance work which is where I learnt best, you are on your own and have to be able to get it right, with only yourself to fall back on. You learn quick this way, or at least I definitely do.
Some of my very best clients which I still work with today have come from freelance work, I think it really helps you to find things to talk about and to bond with your clients much easier.
Was I prepared enough to start my business, could I now come out fighting with my new photography business idea, my camera and a fist full of film? Not quite yet because...
Everything had gone all digital!
2010 - Celebrity Photo Artwork
I got my first major celebrity digital artwork connection, WOW!
I was honoured to be asked through a record management agency to work directly with Jimmy Page to create some new digital artwork using photos from their vast library of past and present imagery, it was to launch himself into the modern day with Jimmy's first website www.jimmypage.com back in 2011.
Working with Jimmy and his management, we discussed various images and concepts we could use and I came up with a very simple tip of the hat to Jimmy Pages Outrider album, I created a simple yet graceful transition from old to new, exactly what he wanted to show on his website, sometimes simplicity is in your face and can be a clear winner.
We created a lot of lovely visuals and a whole load more concepts, we worked very well together. Everyone was really excited to see the photography artwork coming together ready for the new website launch.
It was a truly great project to be part of and my first firm footing in the door, my work within the entertainment industry had really begun!
"Digital Art-working is an essential skill for today's photographer."
This project with Jimmy Page confirmed 100% to me Digital Artwork was an absolute essential tool in today's photographic world.
There is a big demand for photos both new and old to be retouched or completely reworked to suit a particular marketing campaign or brand advertising style.
Being capable of bringing these highly skilled elements together under the one roof, is something that really separates me from most other photographers.
These skills and this knowledge is what has made me stand out from other photographers, it allows me to work with you on incredible visions, to create the impossible and most surreal images you could imagine.
I realised I had found my niche, it all seemed possible for me to turn this into my own photography business, my goals were dropping into the right places.
Never in a million years could I have guessed that those fun days out with a camera in my hand, learning by experimenting (rather than looking on YouTube as people do these days) would lead me towards an exciting journey to becoming a 'professional photographer'.
2011 - IOV Awards
In 2011 I was very fortunate to be asked to be part of a new fishing film called Casting at Shadows. Just a simple two man crew, I was there to photograph and also film over a four week trip, all using Canon DSLR's and a few GoPros for underwater shots.
It was a true Fly Fishing adventure right across the world at Christmas Island, locally known as Kiritimati, located in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii.
We flew out to film with a seasoned fly fisherman and World Record holder (for the largest Tuna caught on a Fly-line), Chris Cook. Chris reeled in large Bonefish, Giant Trevally, Yellow Fin Tuna and Sharks.
The 4am starts were so worth it, our film won an award!
At the Institute of Videographers Awards it was Winner of the Highly Commended Award for Best Corporate Video 2011 (IOV)
Have a quick look at the Official Casting at Shadows Trailer here.
I got to work alongside Award Winning Director (and top man) Ben Marlow, we made a great team along with our incredible fisherman Chris to produce, what we think is a pretty incredible insight and a fishing film that has a cinematic quality.
After the success of the first film, I went on to work again for another month with award winning Director Ben Marlow for the second release, Casting at Shadows - New Zealand the South Island, this turned out to be quite and epic fly fishing film full of highs and lows and some stunning photography, but any backdrop in the south island of New Zealand could pretty much make anything look stunning!
(Both films are of course available on DVD and Blu-ray from all good fishing outlets!)
2015 - I became a first time Dad!
What a life changer, our beautiful son Sidney was born. Would this make my business grind to a halt... of course not, never in a million years.
In fact this actually gave me much more drive to ensure what I was doing would succeed, I felt more determined than ever to make this business a success, maybe he will become a photographer and I Want to Shoot You will become a father & son business, then get passed down to him.
This amazing event also gave me lots of new photo opportunities to shoot things I had never got stuck into before, some baby photography!
2016 - Strive Business Course
I had a new goal, my skills were ready, my direction was sorted and now I needed to start my very own new creative photography business, but just how do you start a business?
Enter the lovely STRIVE team to save the day.
I spotted a flyer on the notice board at my sons nursery, looking for new start-up businesses in Maidenhead, it was a full Business Start-Up course which was free, yes it was FREE.
A council funded incentive to encourage new businesses to start and grow. I had all the help I could need at my finger tips and yes, it was 100% free!
Paul & Richard and their team were nothing but amazing from start to finish, so professional, really easy to talk to and very supportive, they really want you to succeed.
I am pictured 2nd in from the left in our group graduation photo. Even got the dear old Mayor of Maidenhead sat in the middle, he gave out the graduate certificates.
Not only was it an incredible course, I met some very talented people starting up their own businesses too, some have become friends. It made me realise that starting my own proper business was literally in my own hands...
It was now time to take it by the... horns!
2016 - I Want to Shoot You was born
So I knew what I wanted to do, I had the business training under my belt, I knew exactly the style of photography I would be creating and I had all the gear and lighting, I also knew I wanted a very, very attention grabbing name...
It had to resonate with the type of bold, in your face, look at me images I could create... but what?
'I WANT TO SHOOT YOU' thats the one!
It instantly gets your attention, it's a bold statement like my photography style, and what i want to do is exactly what it says on the tin!
So, at the end of September 2016 I Want to Shoot You was born. I feel I have absolutely found my niche in a very overcrowded photography world, I am really pleased to be where I am now, I'm growing my business, meeting great new clients and going from strength to strength.
2017 - Enterprise Cube Awards London
Early in May that year I found out that my new photography business I Want to Shoot You was in for a chance of an award at the Enterprise Cube Business Awards ceremony in London, WOW!
My new business had been shortlisted in the Top 5 for the Best Creative Business 2016, out of over 1000 other new businesses WOW again!
I did not win that lovely glass trophy award for 1st place, shame - but I was over the moon to make the Top 5! I was so happy, it was a really great evening and the food (and beer) were excellent too!
This whole experience gave me such a boost of confidence to really push myself and my ideas into a successful business.
2018 - Bad Manners at Christmas!
Being a local photographer to Reading, I got hired to shoot Bad Manners as they were doing a very special Christmas Two Tone Ska show at Sub89 a legendary live music venue in Reading. Support from by Max Splodge (Two Pints of Lager) and the infamous Skangsters.
I knew i was in for a great knees up to some seriously good tunes!
When I arrived, with a little bit of cheek with a side order of begging and smiling at the lovely security lady, I managed to upgrade my standard Photo Pass to a full AAA (Access All Areas) pass... excellent! This meant I could get onto the stage now to shoot the band, plus side of stage and backstage too, what a result!
Like my dear Nan used to say to me "if you don't ask, you don't get, and that's that"
Being able to shoot on stage gave me a far more natural angle, my photos turned out great, so much nicer than looking up the bands nostrils from down in the pit!
2019 - Today
Today I feel that I have not only pushed myself further forward as a photographer and developed my own style for the art, but also as a person who has met some amazing influences on my journey.
My early passion for photography has become my full time passion in life, I truly love my work and the very interesting people I meet & greet.
But the very most important part of working with all my clients, is those truly captivating moments we choose to freeze in time together and create something really special to you.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me, how I got here and why I love photography.
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