Taking war photography back to the 1640s. Just don’t get the wrong idea – I am not a re-enactor and have only worn 17th century gear on two occasions!

I always thought I’d remain trapped in a suit and tie, or at least in business casual, and that photography would remain a rather unhealthy passion. Somehow I escaped, and it became what I do.

photography with gunpowder

My photography might seem an odd mix. I’d grown up loving reportage-style photography – particularly Don McCullin and Brian Harris‘s early Independent work – and I think it led me to pursue long term projects like Speakers Corner. In recent years this merged with my interest in history (I studied it at Cambridge) and historical re-enactment seems to have pushed all my other projects out of its way. My other photographic love – landscape – might seem totally different, until you remember that much of my beloved Lake District landscape was shaped by its history of mining – which involved the copious application of gunpowder!


Unlike many authors of books on the topic, I didn’t approach digital photography as a graphic artist. As 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 pretty familiar with Photoshop after seeing it in 1990. After a day of spreadsheets and databases the darkroom was always a welcome change and so I tookl a “wet and dry” route while building up my Photoshop skills. When I did buy a Nikon D100 and mentioned it on my blog, I got an 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 my artistic credibility, in my murky past I was actually a spreadsheet warrior, in fact a chartered accountant. Luckily Excel fired my imagination and let me gravitate towards IT and into implementing big accounting systems, especially OLAP cubes or “business intelligence”, integrating systems and migrating data between 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 too.