I started any form of interest of photography when my father lent me an old manual camera. I was 10ish. He paid for a few films and processing, however without funds it was difficult.
A year or two later I had joined the photographic club at school. This was very basic but did show me how to process and print black and white pictures.
Without knowing this was the best thing that happened to me. However at the age of 13 I went to a boarding school where for 4 years I did not touch a camera (or a dark room). However I suddenly started taking and processing pictures again. I was hooked and took loads costing me a fortune. After school I spent a year traveling around Australia taking pictures all the time.
After returning I went to Oxford Polytechnic to study Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, however I spent a lot of time taking pictures for the weekly printed (I say that because it looked like a photocopy) student magazine. I loved it getting pictures published with a by-line, going to concerts and getting in backstage and generally being known by everyone.
A year of Polytechnic passed and I failed the Electrical side of the degree (a blessing in disguise), the Polytechnic wanted me to start another Mechanical engineering degree however the thought of being a first year student again was too depressing so I thought I would pretend to be a student and was unemployed but still keeping up the great social life that Oxford provided. This became very expensive so I worked as a builders mate for a while to compensate.
One lunchtime after I had been digging a great big hole in the ground the local free newspaper dropped through the letterbox of the house I was working in. I was so exhausted and fed up with digging I rang them up and asked for a job. There immediate reply was NO. However I persuaded them to let me see them which I did. No job came of it however two months later they asked me to come and see them again which resulted in me getting a full time job with a Free Newspaper group of 14 papers as a trainee photographer. The main paper was called the Oxford Journal however I worked for them all. One of the other papers they owned had the odd dame of the 'Banbury Cake'.
The Paper sent me away to Sheffield (where they also had a paper to) do a block release course for 4 months over 2 years with the National Council for Training of Journalists. Back to being a student great fun. This time I passed.
After one and a half years at the paper I was made Chief Photographer of the group (they only had four in total) however I was getting fed up with the mundane jobs I was repeatedly doing. Golden wedding anniversaries, village fetes, rubbish football matches and Vox Pops, they were all too frequent so after 3 years working there I left and took a chance in London. My parents who were living in Richmond said I could stay with them and a whole bundle of P.R. jobs organized gave me the perfect opportunity to give it a go.
After a couple of weeks I had found the agency 'Sport and General' who took me on full time after a few lucky pictures. This was the best training for the hectic life in Fleet Street. May I add Fleet Street was still the newspaper street and none of them had left. I got experience in 1st (now called premiership) division football and a multitude of other sports. I went to some of the top news jobs. Loads of Royal jobs, Diana was in full blossom. I also was sent abroad many times. This experience was invaluable however the cost of being put in the deep end was I was paid very badly.
When a job with the Press Association became available after two years with Sport and General (often referred to as 'Spitt and Gobb') I jumped at it getting the job. This paid much better money and gave me more travel. A great job. I had finally made it into Fleet Street. After nine years there I was made Chief Photographer there.
I was then a dedicated agency photographer covering news and sport (which newspaper photographers rarely do). I knew this is what I wanted to do, so after eleven years at the P.A. I took the natural progression to an International news agency, The Associated Press. In 1998 I joined them as staff. I have not looked back.
But yes I did, routine set in, and after several Olympics, World cups, Elections and Wars a very exciting routine set in and have now packed it all in as a Press guy and have taken time off to see what I can do in taking pictures underwater. I'm now living in Egypt on the Red sea waiting for sharks.
Have a look at some of my pictures in this web site to see what I have got up too.
In my view being a photographer for the newspaper industry is the best job in the world, the fun, excitement and travel I believe it cannot be beaten. (well after editing two paragraphs up I am obviously hoping it can)
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