15 years ago I photographed my first ever wedding. To be honest it was pretty bad, but the bride liked it and it was the beginning of the steepest learning curve I have ever been on. Back in 2003 the internet was in its infancy, Youtube had not been invented so how on earth was I going to learn how to be a photographer without the aid of countless, worthless videos? Back in those days there were probable from memory only 2 photographers in the UK that resonated with me, Jeff Ascough and Peter Prior.
The first, and he wont mind me saying, was a grumpy git, so I avoided him, and called Peter Prior. To my utter surprise Peter agreed to let me shadow him on a wedding shoot. No camera allowed, just holding the bags and watching, listening and learning. I learnt more that day than I had done on a 6 month course in Norwich. Lessons so important that I still practice them today, on every shoot. The grumpy old man I got to know later on, and he’s not so grumpy, in fact he is extremely generous with his knowledge and time and for someone who lives north of Watford is a thoroughly nice guy, whose work, whether it be wedding, street or landscape still fascinates me to this day.
I stumbled along for couple of years, shooting lots of weddings, gaining experience, and then I applied to be a member of the WPJA. Back then you actually were turned down if your work was not deemed up to scratch, things have changed since. I was accepted on my second application and entered a few competitions. The photographer of the year in 2005 was a chap called Huy Nguyen. Back then no one in the UK had heard of him, so I decided to get the jump on everyone. He was coming over to the UK to do a very small workshop, so I emailed him and asked him if he would second shoot a wedding with me in Devon, I would gladly pay him for shooting and a critique. To my absolute surprise he said yes, and so I picked him up from Heathrow airport and he spent 3 days with us and shot a wedding with me. The critique was so brutal I needed therapy for years after….
Meeting Huy changed my photographic life, that’s a huge thing to say, but it did. From that one meeting I met a family in 2007 when I went to Dallas, Texas. The most amazing experience where I met the likes of Joe Dickie, Verna Pitts, Greg Gibson, Tyler Wirken, Sherry Pickerell, Vlad and Ben Chrisman. My first experience of meeting Ben Chrisman was during a fight at a skate park, the fight was in full swing and there was Ben photographing it. The “big guy” who was throwing all the punches spotted Ben shooting images of him and quite rightly went mad, so we hastily left. That evening my photography assignment was given to me…….the skate park, where just that night it had kicked off and where I would have to photograph for the next 2 days and nights. Whether Ben was told this or not I have no idea, but he came every day to make sure I was OK and alive and imparted so much of his knowledge to me. If there was a lightbulb moment in my career this was it. I rocked up with Canon EOS1D cameras, a 16-35, 24-70 and 70-200, huge lenses and huge cameras. Within 1 week of returning to the UK I had 2 Canon EOS 5D’s and 3 prime lenses.
I returned to The Foundation Workshops for the next few years, both as a student, assistant and mentor, some of the happiest times in my professional life.
In the last 15 years I have seen pretty much every photographic fashion come and go. From Spot colour, through “fusion”, backlit couples, small dust spots of couples, composite images, cheating images, I have seen a lot and the one thing that has been constant in my career is the desire to tell the truth, to show emotions, to show the moment, to do my clients wedding complete and utter justice. Fashions change, photography style changes I get that, but fashions and style die as quick as they are born. I have never followed a fashion or style. I have worked hard to hone my style, improve it, better it so that my clients hopefully get the best I can offer them.
Throughout the last 15 years one person has been constant, my good friend Anil, always there for me whether that be in England or Kenya, or wherever he lives these days. A constant support, councillor, mentor and inspiration, the best photographer I know, a great friend, I love him dearly.
So that’s the last 15 years, so many great memories. Ive been privileged enough to shoot the wedding of James Corden, who knew back in 2012 that he would get to where he is now. Joe Hart, Darren Bent, two of my sporting idols. All of my bride and grooms have been important to me and my business and it’s been an absolute pleasure and thrill to photograph your weddings. Hopefully, and god willing, there is another 15 years to come.