I didn’t grow up wanting to be a photographer, or even a Lecturer, in actual fact I grew up wanting to be a fighter pilot in the RAF. Much to the disgust of the careers lady at my school who spent most of her time trying to convince me to be a teacher. At the time I hated her, but looking back I’m really quite glad the old bat was so persistent.
Photography was introduced to me at University (a module within my degree course) by the coolest and most inspirational teacher I’d met, Ian. Ian drank too much and swore A LOT, I loved him!!! Ian had a sidekick, Julian, he was very quiet, covered in tattoos and had a very sarcastic sense of humour. They lived in the basement in the bottom of one of the high rises on our campus, a quiet darkroom that stank of chemicals and always had great tunes on, that darkroom soon became my corner of the Earth. My happy place.
Photography came naturally to me, we had a lesson on basic camera skills (this was in the days of film cameras), and the mechanics of the camera. It all just seemed to make sense. From the first project we were given I was producing work that was of a much higher level than my peers, when I handed in my second project Ian’s feedback was “stop pissing all over my projects.” I was doing well.
By the end of my first year at Uni I was employed as the Photography Technicain, which involved many late nights and early mornings in the darkroom developing films, and looking after equipment. My shift usually started lying on my back on the floor of Julian’s office (not like that!!!), I was usually on the office floor at the start of my shift because I’d dragged myself out of bed with a mind-bending hangover. I worked hard and played hard, I never did anything by halves. One of the reasons I ended my Media and Communciations degree with a First Class with honours.
One day, whilst in the darkroom, Ian confided in me that he was dying, with only about 6 months to live. It was so sad, he had two very young children. I was expecting him to follow this up with, “and so I’ll be leaving my job”, but he didn’t. When I asked him why he said “because teaching you bastards is one of the things that I enjoy the most.” Ian was the reason I love photography as much as I do, and I’ll never forget him and his enthusiasm. A few months later Ian passed away. Julian took over as Course Leader, and I was asked by the University to start teaching (the first year students) as well as continuing with my technicians job, and studying for my degree.
And that’s how it all began. My tragic love story with photography.
When I left Uni I did the usual, travel the world, worked in lots of mundane jobs…until one day, whilst working as the Fashions Manager in a department store I found out that the photography studio based in our store was closing.
I saw my opportunity and went to see the man who owned the department store. This was a Friday, he told me to put a business plan together and come back to see him Monday. I did. He liked it. I handed my notice in (of my extremely well paid and secure job might I add) and became the proud owner of the photography studio.
Business went well, with an established customer base, and being based in Liverpool city centre it was an great place to work. I mainly did portraiture but got asked to do commercial work from time to time.
During this time I was asked back to Birmingham City University to lecture part time on my old course. This soon turned into lecturing in photography on another degree course, then doing the odd bits on the Master in Commercial Photography. Oh, and I then got asked to take over teaching on a Visual Design module. I loved it though, so accepted anything that came my way.
When the amount of lecturing I was doing increased, the department store I was based in went into administration and I decided that it was time to call it a day with the studio.
From there I moved to Norwich to Lecture full time at Norwich Univeristy of the Arts on the BA Photography. Where I was from August 2011, until recently handing in my notice after having my second baby.
Now my first baby is off to school I’m going back to my practice, and I’m very excited to get back to taking photographs….