In The Beginning
The shutter bug got me young. In the mid 1970's, aged about nine, I made my first camera - a simple pinhole device using nothing more than black cardboard, a strip of metal foil, some sticky tape, and a 126 film cartridge. The pictures were fuzzy, but the impact was crisp - it gave me a practical understanding of the link between science and art. Around this time I also built a crystal set radio, and thus began my life-long creative relationship with technology.
My father was a gifted hobbyist photographer who never seemed to be without a camera, and it was he who kindled my passion. He processed his own black & white prints at home, something I continued to do long after he made the switch to lab-processed colour. Although I didn't attend an official photography course at school, I did make extensive use of their permanent darkroom facilities (so much easier than converting a home bathroom for the night), and I owe much gratitude to the late Simon Evans for his support and encouragement as the head of the photographic department.
Black & white printing is a magickal process - a heady mix of sweet acid vapours, darkened spaces, and intentional illumination, where paper is caused to cast forth images of shadow and shade. It's a form of alchemy, where base materials are conjured into things of beauty. The craftsman's psyche cannot help but be similarly transmuted.
The Formative Years
In my late teens I developed a taste for live music, outdoor festivals, and the photo opportunities they presented. As a punter at my first Glastonbury in 1986, I climbed onto the Second Stage (what became the NME Stage) to photograph some bands from Vindaloo Records. What attracted me most to the event was the creative anarcho weirdness that pervades it, leaking out as crazy art installations, strange shows, impromptu wonky behaviour, and the like - so much immediacy ripe for the framing - a fascination that remains with me today.
By the time I started at University, technology had become my prime passion. I studied Electronic Engineering and Business Information Systems, and began what turned out to be a long career in IT Management within the SME and social enterprise sectors. By the late 1990's I was Technical Director of a specialist ISP helping to steer it through the dotcom bubble, in the process co-creating a new top-level domain name (dot co-op).
Gradually the pressures of the IT industry took their toll and my camera trips became less frequent. My trusty Olympus OM4 was showing its age, and with a 35mm film archive levelling out at 13,000 frames, a turning point was in the offing. In the post-dotcom haze I became a freelance IT consultant / project manager, conducted an in-depth feasibility study for a major waste re-use project, and was looking for creative things to do in between assignments...
In 2004 I invested in a Canon EOS 10D digital SLR system, which I later updated to a 20D. For me this was a revelation and a revolution - it re-ignited my passion and changed the way I approach my art. As I entered the second half of my life photography once again become prominent interest, now ably supported by years of technical know how.
After a period of absence I'd rejoined London's alternative clubbing community in the late 1990s, so it seemed the natural place to engage my new-found passion for image making. I quickly established a reputation as one of the top photographers on the UK Psytrance scene and alternative festival circuit, known for producing high-quality images that capture the immediacy, vibrancy, and atmosphere of an event. Enthusiasm, as they say, is infectious.
In 2004, the day after my new camera kit arrived, I went on a training shoot and discovered Martha Tilston performing in a local pub - one of the set adorns her debut album "Bimbling". In 2005 I became a resident photographer for two of the UK's premier Psytrance / Psybient related events: The Synergy Project and Glade Festival. In 2006 I was an official photographer at the prestigious Twisted Records Label and 10th Anniversary parties, as well as at Big Green Gathering. I'd been taking pictures for Kingston Green Fair since 1987 and later co-managed it.
The shutter bug left me when the colourful London psychedelic music scene crashed following The Synergy War, and in sympathy perhaps, my aged Canon 20D gave up the ghost in 2012. Rather than spend a hefty few thousand pounds on new equipment I decided to find pastures new. Here are a few of the things I got up to...
- Co-launched Worldshift 2012, a global campaign initiated by Dr Ervin Laszlo and the Club of Budapest which aimed to "co-create the foundations of a peaceful, just and sustainable world".
- Co-managed the UK's premier conscious clubbing event The Synergy Project (aka Luminopolis) that pioneered the active involvement NGOs and regularly attracted audiences in excess of 2,500.
- Co-founded a theatrical production company and co-produced two runs of Cosmic Trigger, a complex stage play that triggers the audience to re-evaluate the concept of belief and mindset.
- Organised business conferences for and rebuilt the website of Mattereum, perhaps the world’s weirdest and most daring Blockchain startup.
- Designed and project managed a large WiFi network for a national heritage site on the private island of Lambay.