From a very early age, I always had a deep fascination for cameras.
I can remember using my mother’s Box Brownie when I was about seven, migrating up to a camera, the make of which I can’t remember, but the lens folded out of the camera on a bellows. I was given a film to go to the Shoreham Air show with my father on the strict understanding that one roll of film (12 pictures) was my limit… Oh the fustration of waiting for the chemist to develop those first pictures. The bug had bitten and from that point forward there was no stopping me. My father had an intriguing and little used plate camera hidden away in his office which he used for aerial photography, but try as I did when he was out, I never managed to find it for closer examination…
The next few years I used a camera given to me by my grandmother and became very good at photographing horses going over jumps at local Gymkhanas and horse shows. Then, when I was fifteen, a real photographer by the name of Terry Piper opened a studio in our village. It wasn’t long before I plucked up the courage to ask for some advice, which ultimately led me into three years of saturdays taking wedding photographs. We would do two or three weddings every saturday using Rolleiflex and YashicaMat twin reflex cameras. When we had more than three weddings, a fourth photographer was hired for the day and as the yongest member of the team, I had to use the big lumpy, unfashionable, heavy, awkward, MPP Micropress half-plate camera complete with tripod and a suitcase full of two sided plates…How I used to look forward to those saturdays and what a pleasure it was to use that beautful camera and see the fantastic results it would produce. Yes, I loved using that camera even if everyone was upside down when I was trying to focus them on the back screen.
They were great days of Black and White photography. We would take 24 or 36 exposures depending on how much the clients had paid.. once the pictures had been taken we would rush back to the studio, develop the pictures and then rush back to the reception with wet proofs mounted on a board and take orders from the guests, alot of whom were under the infuence by then! Even in 1968 I can remember coming back from receptions with over a hundred pounds in orders and quite a few beers inside of me. My career in photography was brought to a sudden halt when the government changed the tax laws and everybody rushed to get married before April the first. Great days, but we hardly did a wedding afterwards. Out went black and white and in came colour – it was then I found I was Red/Green colour blind…..
I joined the army and for a while photography became just a hobby. I bought my first 35mm camera and enjoyed photographing cats and anything which moved. People who could use cameras in those days were few and far between and all of the sudden my services were in demand photographing mess functions and visiting Generals. The occasional wedding kept my skills finely tuned – There is only one opportunity to get it right – no pressure! I was still taking the same standard twentyfour or thirtysix photographs, but now using a Mamiya C220 twin lens reflex camera – 35 mm just wasn’t up to the standard of 6x6cm film. By this time colour processing laboratories were becoming popular and it didn’t really matter that I was colour blind as I didn’t have to worry about matching the colours.
Perspective: A swift move forward to the present day and into the digital age.
At weddings I usually take over 600 photographs, the same twenty-four as in the early sixties and then around 600 of the Bride, Groom and guests as a candid journalistic record of the day. I manage to edit the photos down to 400 and there are usually forty or so in the album whereas in the nineteen-sixties it was always twelve or eighteen into the album at the most.
At the Royal International Air Tattoo in Fairford last year I took over 1500 photographs which were ultimately pruned down to 250 of which three really pleased me and made the three days at the show really worth while.
At social events I use six studio lights and a seven foot lightbox – everyone looks like hollywood stars and, they have the their photographs presented to them in a folder within minutes of the photo being taken…. Click here to see a recent event
Product photos are now taken using a light tent and we will take hundreds of perfectly lit photographs in a day using our light tent.
Probably one of the best advances I have made is the production of 360 degree images or Swiftspins – we set a product up on a revolving bench and photograph it as it rotates it through 360 degrees – a quick manipulation in flash and a movie is produced in which a customer can go to the product on the web and rotate it through 360 degrees frame by frame to make sure that it really is the product he/she wants. Click here to see an example
So what sort of photography gives me pleasure nowadays?
The honest answer is all photography still gives me immense pleasure. But let me loose in Scotland for a couple of weeks or, despite struggling with my failing sight, give me a Cityscape or even Macro objects and I am happy – I enjoy a challenge and I hope I always will! – Have a look at these: Click Here and Here and Here!