Photography first captured my attention as a child back in the early 70's. Both my Father and Grandfather where keen amateurs, and I loved our 'magic lantern' evenings when they projected slides of our family adventures in glorious Fujicolour (or Kodachrome in my Grandfather's case) onto a big screen. One of my Father's pictures remains vivid in my mind's eye to this day. Taken on an idyllic Summer's evening while we were fishing up in the Surrey Hills, he captured Old Bury Hill Lake's mirrored surface reflecting the surrounding trees and cloud-flecked sky. The lowering sun set the water alight and the clouds above flared glorious scarlets and gold and seeing his image sparked my passion for photographing the natural world. On my twelfth birthday I was given my first camera and it all went from there.
As a family we holidayed extensively at Pevensey Bay in East Sussex and went on to tour around the UK as my brother and I grew up. My parents shunned busy resorts and tourist beaches, preferring instead remote, isolated beaches and coves were we could fish, swim, snorkel, surf, camp and explore to our hearts content. Cornwall, Scotland, Wales, Norfolk, Dorset, Somerset, Devon... It was these travels that instilled a love for the great outdoors in me.
At school the brilliant Head of Art, Anthony Bowerman, took me under his wing and gave me free rein of the Art & Photography department. With an Olympus OM1, a well appointed darkroom and endless rolls of Ilford film, I developed my camera and processing/printing skills. Experimenting and pushing my photographic and artistic boundaries, I learned a camera is a creative tool and and not a scientific instrument. Flouting many rules, I used it to create and capture a 'fine art' atmosphere. When I left, Tony Bowerman's shining reference secured me a place at Epsom College of Art and Design, and thereafter a career in London's Advertising industry. Art directing many leading photographers and working with top colour houses gave invaluable insights into alternative approaches, formats and professional developing processes. My career was the driving force behind my days and I soon became a Creative Director and went on to set up my own design and marketing agency. I had a couple of Nikon SLRs and wherever I travelled around the world, they came with me. When I was 29 I returned to Scotland for the first time in 20 years and when I drove through Glen Coe I was completely awestruck. The incredible magnificence of the Highlands quite literally brought tears to my eyes. I was at a turning point in life. Prior to this I was more in to adventuring up mountains and climbing rock faces, yet I was now beginning to appreciate the true beauty of my surroundings and my ropes and climbing shoes gave way to my cameras.
Yet times were changing and a new 'Digital' medium was rearing its head. I was in a photographic studio back in 1991 looking sceptically at a Nikon/Kodak DCS 100 with its tiny 1.4mb images and eye-watering price tag (+£20k). Being involved in working with top, blue chip brands, I could never see digital ever extending beyond basic pack shots. I continued commissioning film shoots but all the time the 'Digital Studio' was evolving. Apple Macs were turning my creative department from a bustling, paper strewn garret housing an array of colourfully talented artists, into a sterile computer room where good design was undermined by limited 'computer skills', low processing power and trendy fads based on this new technology. Soon my Visualisers, Typographers, Designers and Finished Artists were all replaced by a Mac Operator. However, operator skills evolved and Power Macs soon let Adobe Photoshop's amazing capabilities take flight. I eagerly learned its graphic and imaging capabilities, yet kept my head stuck firmly in the sand regarding digital cameras and apart from a couple of Sony 'point-and-squirts' for family snaps, I stuck with film for another 19 years.
So we come to a day in 2010 and I'm hanging around for a delayed flight in Stansted Airport. I'm wandering along the racks in W.H. Smiths, and I pick up a copy of Digital SLR Magazine, and suddenly my world changed!
I was looking at RAW file imaging, and faced with this new-found technical brilliance and creative versatility, I knew it was time for change.
After some in-depth investigation, I e-bay'd my beloved Minolta semi-digital set-up (for a pittance) and dived headlong into full frame DSLR. I invested in a Canon EOS 5D MKII along with a range of lenses. Not only did this move expand my commercial design and marketing offering - at the time my primary source of income - but it turned my love for landscape photography on its head.
Freed from carting rolls of assorted film stock around. Sorting through endless contact sheets. Shelling-out on expensive prints, my DSLR now put me in charge. I already had all the hard & software to truly get the best from this and I felt like I was back in the 6th Form dark room, where I could shoot as many exposures as I needed to get the shot I wanted and 'develop' it just the way I liked using RAW and Photoshop. A new window of opportunity opened-up and I jumped through headfirst! I expanded my camera gear with a superb EOS 1DS MKIII and most recently an EOS 5D SR that gives 50mb of stunning resolution.
I'm not interested in conjecture around which format is better. I learned my craft using Film, then evolved into Digital. I got to grips with manual camera operation using the constraints of film and now extend this knowledge through expansive freedom of the new medium. For my seascapes, digital has no equal. No more hesitation and missing 'the shot' because of concerns over frame counts. Or opening the camera on a storm-swept beach to reload film. And being able to change the ISO at will... what a blessing! Suddenly the 'Exposure Triangle' became wholly manipulable. What I do say to those who protest digital can make a bad shot good, is that they can't have seen what colour houses do with film. In much the same way as professional photographers manipulate their film developing, I will consider every tool available in my digital studio. However, I don't do HDR, cut & paste, or use stitching other than for panoramas. What I do, is use a range of manual handling and filtering skills to capture the image 'In Camera', then refine it using post-processing, stock choice and printing settings, to give me the image as I saw it.
As for my choice of subject matter, I hark back to my childhood days. The great outdoors draws me like a magnet and the sea with its many moods and states with the interplay of light on water, fascinates me. Only my horizons have broadened and I've been lucky enough to travel across the UK and abroad to shoot some fabulous locations. Yet through all my wandering, Cornwall's magnificent coastline and Scotland's glorious Highlands & Islands inspire me most. A thrill runs through me every time I set out with my cameras to wander across a deserted beach or through a remote Highland glen. I love to spend days on end amongst stunning surroundings, searching for new photo opportunities. Climbing towering peaks, wading deep margins or clinging to surf-battered rocks, waiting with my camera... watching... hoping for that split second when the elements to come together and... 'Click'... the moment is captured!
By the very nature of my choice of subject matter, I usually witness these moments in wonderfully detached solitude. Therefore I strive to impart this same feeling of splendid isolation in my images. To draw you, the viewer, 'in'
to the picture by conjuring the same sense of tranquility or visual excitement on a singularly exclusive level. As if You
alone where there to witness the event. Hence I rarely feature people or habitable, human structures in my pictures. Because such detail dilutes the seclusion I seek.
As for my approach, nothing excites or challenges me more than watching nature play-out in my viewfinder as I try new ways of capturing it. Going back to Mr. Bowermen's teachings, this considered experimentation means my photography is more creative freedom than a strict, technical exercise. I enjoy trying to express the textures in a rushing wave... the movement in Marram Grass on windswept sand dunes... A sun-lit crest frozen as it explodes over barnacled rocks... billowing ranks of clouds scudding overhead as a storm brews on the horizon... The reflected light in textures of glistening rocks... All coming together in a single vista image. This is what inspires me.
Back in 2011, I was delighted to win the annual 'Cornish Point of View' photographic competition. The first I had ever entered. This spurred me on and in 2012 I had very encouraging success with my first solo Seascape exhibition. All this along with growing sales from my website, pushes me ever onwards in attaining new heights. In February 2013, I left London and the home-counties and moved to the tucked-away village of Crantock on the Atlantic Coast of Cornwall.
I pinch myself every morning when I look out my studio window. Each day offers a new photographic opportunity and to have such magnificent beaches and towering cliffs on the doorstep a true blessing. As is going out to find new locations around this county's remarkable coastline. My commercial photographic activities now often go hand-in-hand with my passion for land and seascapes and much of my work appears in photo libraries, travel directories and in the marketing and communications materials I create. In my most recent achievements, I have been shortlisted for Outdoor Photographer Of The Year award in 2015 and 2016.
Today, in line with my move to the Cornish coast, alongside my commercial commissions and fine art print sales, I've started running One-to-One, B&B Workshops for photographers wishing to develop their own Seascape skills. This venture is proving hugely successful and many clients, of all ages, abilities and experience levels have left with some stunning images and fond memories. For me, nothing could be more inspiring and rewarding.