I first studied photography as part of my Design Diploma at College. I learnt how to develop film and prints in the darkroom, and this pretty much got me started. I got my first SLR as a present for my 21st Birthday, and soon after I enrolled on a GCSE in Photography. Upon passing I then took my A Level and passed that too. Although useful, I feel I’ve learnt far more simply by doing, and reading lots of books and magazines.
Eddie Ephrams was an early influence, especially as I was shooting black and white at the time. His book ‘Gradient Light’ was the yardstick by which I measured all my early efforts in the darkroom, although I have to say I never really got close in those early days.
One of the earliest influences on me has been my friend Grant Pritchard. When he returned from a trip to New Zealand in 1994 and gave us a slideshow I was blown away. I resolved there and then to make it to NZ myself, it only took me the 9 years but I did eventually make it! New Zealand had a profound effect on me that has lasted to this day, and changed my whole perspective and outlook on life.
Without a doubt though, the single biggest influence over the years has been Joe Cornish. His book ‘First Light’ was like a Bible to me and was the standard to which I aspired to for so many years.
flickr played a large part in my ongoing development, and exposed me to a number of photographers’ work. Anthony Spencer has been a great inspiration to me, and I think he paved the way for many others. The work of David Baker, Finn Hopson, John Finney and Peter Hulance have also shaped the way I photograph.
There are many wildlife photographers that are a true inspiration, but the greatest of all, as far as I’m concerned, is Vincent Munier. His atmospheric shots set the bar that every wildlife photographer should aim for, placing as much emphasis on the surrounding habitat and conditions as the subject matter itself. Munier is one of a number of European photographers that for me are leading the way. Michel Doultremont, Marcel Van Oosten, Jan Van Der Greef, Stefan Gerrits, Rob Blanken and Felix Wesch are all producing ground breaking work that continually inspires.
I remained loyal to Minolta over the years, and when Sony bought out Minolta and it came time to go digital I bought a Sony Alpha 200. It was the increasing interest in wildlife photography that pushed me toward Canon. Sadly, at the time, Sony didn’t have the great variety and quality of zoom lenses that Canon had, so I bought a Canon 500D along with a Canon 100 – 400mm L series lens and 1.4x converter. After receiving Runner up in Classic View in the LPOTY Competition I spent my winnings on a second hand 7D, and sold the 500D body on ebay. I later upgraded to the 7D Mark II, which I still use to this day, and more recently have added to my kit bag with the M6 Mk II, which I use predominantly for video work, although it is also very useful when you need to travel light.
I guess my style is very much a reflection of my personality; for the most part I prefer quiet and understated scenes. I always try to accurately represent the scene in front of me, and so my processing is never too over the top. I’m not a fan of the super saturated look with heavy use of vignettes and deep contrast. Often I feel the very essence of what you’re trying to capture is lost when you go too far in post, and I’d much rather those viewing my images are presented with what I saw rather than than some ‘creation’.