My backstory is that I’ve always been observant. Me mam said I had ‘Sharp eyes’.
It didn’t take long before I started to enjoy photography.
As a young teenager I used to get packed off on organised annual canal holiday camps, cruising the delectable waterways of Birmingham with 50 random kids, who over the years became my tight buddies and penpals.
Myself, Willux, Jaffa, Jimmy, Alex & Jules used to meet year after year to spend a week cruising at less than walking pace, pondering life & sharpening our wit. I loved creatively documenting it on my film cameras.
Remember them? 24 goes on each.
I loved those character-forming holidays, kitted out in tie-dyed Nirvana T’s and drawn between a fine set of shoulder-length curtains (AKA in ladies hairdressing as a ‘bob’). It was there that I learnt my way around a camera, aged 12/13 with various compact cameras. I remember we’d spend our days finding brooms and spending ages running and jumping with it to freeze ourselves in flight. We’d spell out & photograph swearwords made in vegetables. We’d shoot force depth-of-field snaps of coiled rope & bullrushes. Then when I’d get them back from the lab after the cruise, I’d reminisce and we’d make witty comments to go with them a la Loaded and FHM.
Those were the days.
Uh oh! I’ve just found another photo from that grungy period!
*Ehem* lovin’ those highlights…
[Disclaimer: If you’re a potential wedding client I promise I do not look like this any more!]
Anyhoos – I found photography a great way to capture memories, document fun & an easy creative outlet. I used to love to draw and no longer felt I needed to. It as all there to catch instead. It was merely a question of timing and know-how. Which wasn’t the easiest thing when your mum gave you her archaic 35mm Box Brownie with a back pops open when it’s grumpy.
Fast forward through the teens, and you’d find me clipping shut my seat buckle on a plane to Bangladesh on my first big adventure: volunteering at a spinal injuries unit on the outskirts of Dhaka. There I made some fantastic pals, and on the evenings we’d catch a rickshaw into Savar at Dusk and take a boat wallah out to catch the golden sunset.
I soaked up every detail of those distant corners of the world; so happy to have a camera as a companion; to frame and physically quantify memory.
I still remember shooting this boat wallah back in ’99 on my Rollei compact through a pair of sunglasses.
I really got the travel bug. Everything was so different & exciting. So new.
Look at the state of how many peeps are throngin’ down by the river. Mental.
The rickshaws and baby taxis were everywere. Every day an adventure; and the way these dudes drove, every trip potentially your last!
After 3 months of fixing archaic computers & playing connect 4 with paralysed victims in Bangladesh, my comrades & I travelled through India…
I loved this shot of Tim & I givin it showdown in a surreally frontier-style town. I bet it’s still the same today.
And came home abuzz with travel, to find things pretty much the same. I went to uni in Nottingham, got the 2:1 & like a catapult was off again…
…kicking it on Bangkoks Khao San in 2003.
Riding the long tails – my kind of taxi.
Learning a bit of fire poi, and passing time doing the things travellers do, like trying to read between the lines of the lonely planet to discover the places off the beaten track, then bumping into the same backpackers everywhere I went…
I was particularly proud of photo – I think it’s the dogs bollocks.
Through Cambodia I ventured (figuring out how to get a tasty panning shot out of my Fuji S5000)
Fell in love with and took a blurry shot of Laos
Almost ordered Dog on the border of China. Not sure what I went for in the end, but no doubt it was between steam turtle and fry beef bowel.
Bounded through Malaysia & Singapore & skipped to New Zealand to spot some big dirty whales…
…turned various views into pixels.
Took a dip in sea off the coast of a tasty Fijian island… (not long after taking this photo I joined my 4 pals in the sea, across from their canoes)
Via LA (sadly CJ Parker wasn’t on duty)…
…hired a red sports car & took highway 1 through Big Sur to San Francisco…
…saw why Ansel Adams was always bangin on about Yosemite…
…and dropped into Vegas for a $1.25 margarita.
Before bouncing home, with a travel-broadened mind and a passport full of fun stamps.
You know, this post was meant to be about some photos I shot in Leeds today, while out on Leeds Guide magazine duties, but I thought a little backstory might’ve been enlightening.
It seems to be taking me some time to get to the point I’m afraid kids!
But basically – I came back from this last set of travels with some photos I was real proud of. It was November when I got home, so I thought, “Hey, why not sell these?!” So I mounted some prints, knocked up some greetings cards and set up a stall at a Christmas craft fair in Leeds’ Corn Exchange.
After Christmas, I’d almost made back the cost of my trip! Happy days. I used the cash to buy my first digital SLR.
I carried on setting up my stall at weekends for a couple of years, and suddenly I was making money out of being a photographer. Being home in Leeds, I started photographing the city and selling b&w prints of Leeds like these…
The civic hall owl, overlooking the Leeds Town Hall
It was around this time when friends started asking if I’d photograph their weddings. They liked my style, my people pictures, the sense of fun in my work, and were willing to give me a go. I remember my first wedding, with my 350D and sigma 18-50 f2.8. My pal Del lent me his Fuji S2 pro & a 70-200 2.8, and at the you may kiss the bride moment it died. Dead. All I got was ‘ERR’. They say “To err is human”, but I’d rather hoped on my first wedding technology wouldn’t err on me. But I dealt with it, and we got some great pix of Louisa & Jez’s big day.
Meanwhile, I continued running my print stand & turned a developing catalogue of UK city images into Urban City calendars. In 2006>2008 I published and printed calendars for Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham. I sold them through shops including Waterstones & Borders and it was all very exciting playing sole trader!
If you’d like to see more of the calendar click here or the above image to view a PDF of Urban Leeds ’08
It was off the back of these calendars that the Leeds Guide asked me aboard to photograph their features. And since I’ve become a full time wedding photographer, it’s kind of sad that I’ve become too busy to continue the Urban City Calendars. It’s fun when people ask if I still produce them. I think it was unusual to celebrate the cities everyday sights in a contemporary way.
And FINALLY – to the point of this post! I was out photographing for the Leeds Guide today, and had my camera round my neck as I passed Leeds Town Hall…
Compare the view above with that shot of Louisa & Jez (here).
I love this ‘Reclining Woman’ bronze statue by Henry Moore, outside the Leeds Art Gallery.
Walking away, I spotted this view of the Town Hall I don’t think I’ve shot before.
There’s always a new view; more often than not from behind you.
It must be getting late – that almost sounds profound.
nb: I forgot to mention that I’d taken another adventure to South America in between those tales, but that’s a story for another blog post!