I was almost resigned to a career in a suit. Somehow I escaped, and photography became what I do.
I’m not sure one should ever try to explain why one’s photography may seem an eclectic, even contradictory mix. Isn’t that just the way it should be? But before I ever owned a camera I recall admiring photojournalism, particularly Don McCullin and Brian Harris‘s Independent work, and that may have led me to long term documentary projects like Speakers Corner. On the other hand, I was also a big fan of Robert Mapplethorpe and his influence has rarely been apparent in my photography! Maybe it was McCullin and my having read history at Cambridge that led to my interest in historical re-enactment, but I’ve also a decent knowledge of art history and often bring that to bear. How my other photographic love – landscape – can be explained is beyond me. But does one really need to explain?
Unlike many authors of books on the topic, I didn’t approach digital photography as a graphic artist. I confess, I was a “suit”. But in my late twenties I had rekindled a teenage interest in darkroom printing and my career had taken me to the printing press manufacturers Heidelberg where I became familiar with Photoshop around 1990. But at that time my days were spent with spreadsheets and databases, and evenings in the darkroom were always a welcome change from computers, so I built up my Photoshop skills gradually by a “wet and dry” route. When I eventually bought a digital camera, a Nikon D100, I mentioned it on my blog which led to the opportunity to write my first book on digital B&W, and I’ve now written 10 or so books on digital photography, the latest two being published in 2013.
To finally destroy any artistic credibility I may have, my murky past contains years as a spreadsheet warrior (a chartered accountant). But after learning got automate Excel I gravitated to financial IT work and implementing big accounting systems, OLAP cubes and “business intelligence”, migrating databases. These skills actually lend themselves to managing lots of photos or “digital asset management” and improving clients’ Lightroom productivity and designing web sites. But I do know Photoshop pretty well.