I was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and am now residing in Edinburgh after a long period away working as a freelancer in London and elsewhere.
My photography life started at a pretty young age. At around 16 years old, I started taking photographs around my home near Glasgow, then when given a Pentax 35mm SLR I started taking it seriously. I was always interested in art; my last couple of years of school were dominated by my painting and sculpture classes, and this continued at home where I enjoyed creating still life paintings in oil and water colour. Then photography took over once I started getting more familiar with the medium, and with the realisation that I was never going to be an artist.
I eventually studied the subject at art college, and became fascinated by a book about the History of Photography. Eventually I stumbled upon urban street photographs by an American photographer called William Klein, and I was hooked – this was the genre that interested me. I discovered other American and European photographers, such as Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lee Friedlander, Brassai, Andre Kertesz and many more. I’ll always be grateful for this early education from these masters of the smaller format which became a source of inspiration.
In particular with my earlier photos in Glasgow, I made a lot of mistakes. I was young and learning on the move, which lead to many shots being spoiled by poor technical application, incorrect exposures and wrong choice of film stock. But, I gradually improved, I processed all my negative rolls myself, experimenting with different chemicals until finding the most suitable brands and methods, and eventually built up a decent collection of shots in my home city.
This persistence has paid dividends because in 2010 a Scottish publisher viewed my Glasgow photographs which lead to a book titled ‘Glasgow at the Crossroads’, a series of documentary images of the city from the mid 1970’s to mid 80’s. The book is available on Amazon.co.uk. By that point I had started scanning and digitising all my negatives onto my computer, and started using software to work on the tonal balance and exposure. I became a big fan of Lightroom; for me this rekindled interest in my own images and allowed me to recreate these photos without having to enter a darkroom, which was a procedure I never really enjoyed.
From the 1980’s onwards I did a fair amount of travelling abroad to places like Egypt, USA, Morocco, France, Turkey and Cyprus, and that was a great opportunity to gather a wider collections of images using the 35mm format. For the great majority of those images I used the Pentax Spotmatic and Pentax K2 cameras, and very little else (I also used an old Voigtlander rangefinder). I found those earlier Pentax models to be solid and reliable, with high quality lenses, and they never let me down. The world of course started to change, photography changed, and Pentax themselves altered their production and marketing strategy, but I stuck with those older cameras for quite a few years before taking a back seat and didn’t regret it.
Also during that period from 80’s into early 90’s, I managed to set up quite a few exhibitions of my photographs in galleries/art centres in London and Glasgow, even managing to sell a few images from time to time. My professional work during that time consisted mostly of editorial and magazine photography, which didn’t appeal to me, my heart was not in this kind of work. The film world was calling.
Looking back, I have one regret – not working more with the Rollieflex and Yashica 120 square medium format twin lens reflex models. After I recently discovered the brilliant work (and strange story) of Vivian Maier, I wished I’d paid more attention to those superb cameras and emulsions.
My photography took a back seat as I became more involved in the film industry as an editor, being busy for years working on TV dramas, feature films, documentaries, pop promos and commercials, working mostly in London but also Glasgow and Edinburgh from time to time. My working life had become dominated by an active period of employment in film and TV production so my output of photographic images was restricted somewhat, and I started to lose touch with many of the new technical developments.
And now, the digital age. Film, and of course photography have changed dramatically, in terms of technology. Now we have a bewildering array of cameras and formats to choose from, which to be honest, I find overwhelming and confusing. When considering what to buy as I reintroduced myself to the photography world again, I decided to stick with smaller format cameras which has been my habit since I started. I realised I wasn’t going to be creating the same kinds of images that I used to in my early days, when youth was on my side, or with the same frequency. I also realised, after some research, that some of those small format digital cameras on the market were pretty good if used properly, so I now keep it simple, either using my mobile phone lens and a Sony Nex 5N which I bought second hand and have used for a few years now. I did have a particular liking for a neat little Nikon Coolpix which yielded decent results while it lasted, although it lacked robustness hence it’s short life span.
Despite my other activities, I still enjoy taking photographs. I enjoy seeing what other photographers do in this modern age, and how they approach their subject. My own personal approach really just consists of catching something in passing that interests me from a visual or social point of view and attempt to capture it – I don’t try to ‘force’ an image and if it doesn’t work there’s always something else around the corner. I like abstraction, and the majority of my shots are now colour, which I’m glad to say is a lot more of a creative process now than when I started in photography. In the past working in colour was an expensive and limited process which turned me off, but those days are long gone.
Summing up, I hope that people will enjoy my photographs, both past and present, and I look forward to discovering new and interesting material on this impressive clickasnap website.