Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?
I was born in Hammersmith in London, England UK. I was born Dyslexic and I struggled at school with the more academic subjects, but did very well in the Arts and Science. I found being Dyslexic more of a gift than a disability. My Dyslexia was one of the more rare forms where two areas of the brain are not connected in the Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area, so there was no hope for me to improve my academic skills. After I found out Einstein was Dyslexic along with quite a few photographers at the time, there was no holding me back. I had a dream of one day becoming a photographer. I left school with average grades and started out shooting events and weddings with 35mm film. This was short lived due to starting a family so the photography was hit and miss over the years. I am now a professional photographer shooting events and street photography, as well as teaching photographers on training courses and workshops in Street photography.
I moved to the North West of England about 9 years ago to be with my girlfriend Jane, at first it was quite hard to adjust but now I find that Liverpool inspires me to take more and more images. The North West is also in a great position in the UK for me to travel up and down the country to teach courses and talk at events.
I have always been a people watcher, it’s in my nature to want to know what is going on out there on the street, and I feel at home out in the streets of our cities. I think Street is very important even to this day of digital. There have been so many amazing Street photographers in the past and if it had not been for them documenting the streets of the world we would not be able to look back at our history.
What I love about Street is that you never quite know what you are going to get. Things happen all the time in fractions of a second that will never happen again, and only the person who is there that day with a camera can get that shot. No one can recreate or set up some of these amazing Street moments and that’s what makes Street photography unique. So my style is still developing, I was heading in one direction but now I use the X Series, I have slowed down to re-evaluate where I am going.
Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?
I was shooting with Nikon for over 30 years but started to get fed up with the weight of the equipment. I had a fall on the Isle of Skye whilst shooting landscapes on holiday and broke a few ribs; this was down to the sheer weight of camera gear on my back.
When I got back home I started to look for new options and bought myself a Fuji X100 – Wow! What a great little camera. I started to use the X100 more and more and found myself leaving the Nikon D3s in the bag. For street photography, the X100 was amazing. Soon after that I bought the XPro1 and shot Liverpool International Music Festival with the Fuji and the Nikon D3s. Following the festival, I decided to shoot Fuji only. I sold all my Nikon Pro gear! It was a big brave move but one I do not regret. I shoot mainly black and white and the Fuji X series are perfect for my style of shooting.
Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?
I learnt my craft from the days of film, so I guess my philosophy is to keep it real. I would much rather go back to a landscape 20 times in my life and capture the perfect landscape than to create the landscape in Photoshop. When I look back over the years, the images that mean the most to me are the ones that are the most real. I don’t always look for the sharpest most perfect images, I want the images to speak to me and tell me a story that means something to me as well as the viewer. So its got to be right from the moment of capture, that is why I love Street and Fuji cameras, its all about keeping it real.
Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?
Most people can come up with list of great names for inspiration but I always struggle with this question. David Bailey was my inspiration as a young lad and also Michael Boys. I guess I love how creative these guys were and still are. I do admire some of the great Street Photographers work and styles but try not to let their images change what I am trying to achieve in my work.
The images my parents took of each other and myself as a child are the images that are stuck in my head from childhood. So I guess I draw my inspiration from family street photography.
Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?
- My style of street photography is more candid so I try and dress for the area I visit to blend in. This is why I love to use the X100T it’s so very discreet. I very rarely ever ask to shoot a portrait. I try and shoot the subject as naturally as possible, but if they do notice me at the point I am taking the shot, I will just smile and say thanks. On these occasions I have made many new social media contacts, given out business cards or even sent a print as a thank you.
- I like to pick busy days in the city or town I choose to shoot my street photography. This opens up the options for lots of opportunities and subjects. People tend to be busy going about their everyday business and won’t even notice me, even if I am standing right in front of them. The busy towns always have great side streets where people walk in and out of town to shop or visit friends.
- If I find a great area I like to spend a lot of time just hanging and blending in, just taking a few shots like a fumbling tourist so that people lose interest in me, that way I can catch them as naturally as possible. Train stations are very interesting especially the seating areas, as people are thinking more about their journey or their day.
- I like to look for interesting subjects, someone who stands out from the crowd, people dressed in an interesting way or with an interesting look that will compliment the background. Flamboyant, outgoing people make great subjects, but are also very aware of cameras and photographers so are better subjects to ask for a portrait.
- I like to find great atmospheric areas that have lots of character, I then wait for the right subject to walk in to frame. This can take quite a while, sometimes hours on some occasions. I can revisit great areas a few times before I have success. Some days you get great light in a fantastic area but no subject, the next day lots of subjects and poor light, it’s a waiting game but worth it, every time.
What’s next for you?
I always do a yearly project and this year its natural light street photography with a bit of a twist. I am starting it towards the end of march and the images will be on my website here and I will be talking at the photography show for Fujifilm on the street stage in March http://ow.ly/JcdsE
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