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 I had been into darkroom printing since my school days and after 1990 became pretty familiar with Photoshop while working for Heidelberg in the printing industry. Since I could easily scan negatives and slides, the early digital cameras held little interest and I didn’t rush into digital. The darkroom was always a welcome change after a day of spreadsheets and databases, but this “wet and dry” route let me build 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 photographic credibility, in my murky past I was actually a spreadsheet warrior, in fact a chartered accountant. Excel fired my imagination (I won’t explain) and I gravitated towards IT and moved into implementing big accounting systems, especially OLAP cubes or “business intelligence”, integrating business 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. And I do know Photoshop pretty well too.