For those who are interested, here's the long-winded version of how I got to be in this place... Doing this stuff...
by Edgar Allan Poe
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then - in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life - was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.
One hundred years later...
After a peripatetic and badly mixed bag of formative school system experiences I furtively scuttled away from secondary education in the late seventies with a few formal qualifications, a muddle in my mind and a colony of angst in my pants. A rich blur of bohemian moments spent in the reckless, devil-may-care haze of a post-punk, end-of-decade London scene, connecting with cosmopolitan arty-farty types, enterprising, hippy squatter types and psychedelic, techno-pagan types preluded some pluralistic trekking about on an international trajectory of self-discovery that was variously littered with a jumble of experiences - glittering, heart-rending and mind-expanding in roughly equal measure.
Deluded that the trail I blazed would be rapidly populated with dozens of like-minded institutional fugitives, fervent to follow in my fecund footsteps and colonise the utopian arcadia of my fanciful imagination, I rapidly and unsurprisingly found myself alone and adrift in the oceanic vastness of an indifferent planet. Then, at some simultaneously random and timely moment in the early spring of 1981, I arrived at and fell in love with California. I settled in Los Angeles where, over several years, I trained and practised freelance as a graphics draftsman, specialising in submissions to the US Patents Office.
Following my return to the UK, throughout the nineties and noughties (and with a capricious variation of arduously earned accomplishment and depressingly profound frustration) I developed and sold a number of properties and businesses. Submission, however, to a grisly succession of large-scale corporate masters and rapacious commercial associates, each demanding its own pitiless brand of servitude, led to an initially challenging but ultimately gratifying escape route from the money-chasing slave trade. Decisively slipping away from the realms of ravenous material acquisition, I relocated to a somewhat overdue arrival at the psychologically rewarding province of creative endeavour - the place at which I gratefully find myself now - explicitly in what I would describe as a vocation-location, rather than on a career-tier... And happily-ever-after, I hope, in the lavish and limitless field (the incandescent meadows, no less) of photography and digital imaging.
In truth though, my journey into the genre actually began long before I was lured into the digital dominion, because I have been captivated by the photographic arts for as long as I can remember. Photography has been an on-and-off passion ever since my Dad bought me my first-ever film camera - the Agfamatic ISO-Rapid C (an Agfa version of a Kodak Instamatic) in 1968. I am, to this day, still fascinated by and fanatical about every aspect of the creative processes of photography.
Entirely self-taught over the course of the last forty years in the disciplines of analogue and digital photographic production and post-processing, I have been practising as a semi-professional photographer and creating images for commercial sale since 2014. I suppose, as I employ digital camera equipment for my image capture and a computer for my final picture production, some people might also care to describe me as a digital artist.
Despite spending my earlier photographic years skulking in a darkroom, developing and processing black and white film from old manual cameras, my preference has always been for colour images. Back in the day, I never managed to make the demanding progression into my own colour film developing and processing, but everything changed in that regard at the turn of the twenty-first century…
Cue the digital epoch.
In the early years of the new millennium, digital imaging indecorously barged its way into the photosphere, demanding immediate attention, generating establishment scepticism and at once opening up a world of opportunities for colour photo capture, post-processing techniques and final image results that I, in my former twentieth century analogue lifetime could only have day-dreamed about. For me, the digital revolution has been a cardinal revelation. By every aspect of the taking and the making, I am more consumed now than I ever was. Of course, photography is no different from any other art or craft that devours you; you never stop learning. There is always something new to be mastered just around the corner, and the next, and the next... It has taken my half-century on the planet to realise fully that it is the journey along the trail itself - the “Art-Route 66” - that traverses the landscape of creative endeavour; the unexplored road that stretches to the rim of a constantly receding horizon that ultimately brings fulfilment... Because you never actually arrive, unpack, relax and take stock with any sort of finality, you just keep on trucking...
It’s the ride, not the destination.
As for the UK, it offers a magisterial photographic voyage and let no-one tell you otherwise. Here, at the chilly confluence of the North Atlantic Ocean and the frigid Northern European Seas, sits our cluster of rainy little islands. We may not have high altitude plains, equatorial rainforests, alpine mountain ranges, frozen tundra or endless desert… But, in all weathers, the UK truly is a mutable treasure trove of coastal and countryside grandeur. As well as featuring some of the world’s most extraordinary ancient heritage sites and unspoilt expanses of National Park splendour, there are almost five thousand kilometres of coastal paths. You could spend ten years travelling the country and only photograph ten percent of it.
As regards my personal vision, come drizzle, depression or drama, I see it as my task to endeavour to make something of all light and of every scenic opening that presents itself to me, to spot prospects and to try and use all conditions to my advantage. I am always ready to trust my instincts, to stop en-route to a destination if I do encounter an unexpected opportunity, because that moment will never again be offered up to me. Once I am established on location and I identify the textures, tones and patterns that I have to work with, pre-visualisation becomes a major part of the process. I try not to be formulaic and I make a point of regularly venturing outside my comfort zone, exploring new ideas, unexpected situations and different settings.
In common with countless other contemporary and predecessor photographers, I endeavour to create my basic image by engaging existentially and aesthetically with a moment, by relishing the light and the compositional possibilities within the moment - and by striving to capture the beauty, mood or drama of that moment before it is forever lost to the past.
The post-production interpretation of my images - that informs the portfolio presentations that I produce - is an important part of the creative method, but the time that I spend on location, studying the landscape, becoming aware of what it is presenting to me, pre-visualising and acquiring fresh material, is the essence that I crave, it is the core that defines me as a visual artist.