My Photography Journey
Personality and Passion Photography - Tone, Vibe and Vision
My first ever photoshoot.
Sort of .......
My girlfriend's (At the time) sister wanted something a little bit arty for her Facebook (Way back when Facebook was just starting) profile picture. She wanted something casual and yet showing off her new Tattoo and I was there with a camera phone.
The reality was that when she visited she could not be pried away from the computer and internet and I just happened to be the person in the room that could take a photo .... I did direct her though ... So yeah ... Technically my first Photoshoot.
I suppose it would be wrong to say I got into photography due to jealousy .... More a coincidence.
My ex girl friend started dating a photographer after we broke up and as that sad little curiosity goes I took a look at his work and I have to say I really liked it. In fact I have literally just checked out his work and I am glad to say I still like looking at his work. This makes me incredibly happy as the last time I checked out his work I was heart broken to discover he had not really moved on from when I first saw his work many years ago.
But now I am really honestly glad to say he has moved onwards and upwards.
This new fangled desire to take Photos prompted my Mum and Step Dad to purchase me a little compact camera for Christmas. I experimented with nature, landscapes and such but it was when people were in shot I became most fascinated by the images I was capturing. And so I fell for street Photography.
Oh ... And by the way .... The photographer I mentioned is no longer with my ex girlfriend ... Just in case any one was wondering.
Fake it till you make it …?
You have probably heard this one before .... Sadly I must report that I did this true and it does work.
I used to love dipping into my local Weatherspoons for a Sunday breakfast and like most photographers I could not wait for an excuse to show any of my work to anyone who would take a look. As such the manager became aware of me and asked me to use my skill (Haha!) and abilities (Again Hah!) to cover the freshers welcoming event. I am genuinely embarrassed to admit the above is a shot of mine and although its not really as bad as I remember, even at the time I knew I had done a really poor job of it.
However, I was genuinely able to tell people I had done a commission for Weatherspoons and that managed to open a few doors for me with other projects.
Also I suppose its one of those learning curves we all go through and to this day I now am really reticent to take on any paid projects that I do not have some experience of. I do honestly believe (In fact I know) that different types of photographers have different skills and just being able to dial in a setting does not mean you can transpose on skill set to another.
Sigh … Yes I am afraid that I did this too.
I was asked by a local Weatherspoons to cover their student welcome day … The results where terrible and I am a little embarrassed to post here, but genuinely being able to say I shot for Weatherspoons was a huge door opener.
Not sure why I rushed up to Sabrina as she and her friend mooched towards the park ... Although the Edwardian costume had much to do with it. Not sure where I got the courage from as I had never approached a random stranger and asked to take their photo before.
Am glad I did as we became firm friends and collaborators.
Even though I did not really have much of a clue as to what I was doing when it came to model shooting. Although working with Sabrina I think we both learnt so much.
I am sad to say you will not see many shots with Sabrina here ... This is more due to it being a time when I would take a couple of hundred shots during a shoot (Something I would never do now) and because of my short comings at the time not many of them were what you could actually call good. All my fault as at the time I was totally improvising and I just did not really have the skill set to do much justice.
But it is thanks to Sabrina and our later much improved efforts that I started to get a feel of how to work with people in posing and shooting.
Now we are cooking … Literally.
I had been sort of coasting on my somewhat questionable Weatherspoon credentials for a while when I got to shoot for the really wonderful Slaaw Foods at Union Street.
Sadly (Or happily dependent on your point of view) Slaaw foods does not exist anymore as the owner emigrated to Australia. It was however a wonderful period when I finally started to get a feel for doing promotional shots. The owner Sophie was lovely and for the first time I experienced what has been one of the most wonderful of things ... Someone approached Sophie and asked
The Sheffield Antiques Quarter.
One of the most wonderful of times was during my commission to be the blogger and photographer for the Sheffield Antiques Quarter.
So many wonderful people and such diverse businesses that embraced independent traders as well as its core of antique dealers. It was also so wonderful working for the amazingly passionate Hendrika and getting involved in the promotion, creation of marketing materials and covering so many wonderful events. It was a happy time and being the official photographer of the Antiques Quarter meant that I could finally dump that Weatherspoons thing.
I have always said that it pays to do face to face meets and it was through asking to get some photos for the flea market that I became the official Photographer for the Antiques Quarter in Sheffield.
When Hendrika decided to move on I took the sad decision that I too would take my leave. I had other things I now wanted to concentrate on.
It was a great time and a great experience.
The Watch and Anthony (https://www.instagram.com/ant_17c/)
It is a sad thing to admit but I am not the kind of person to dedicate myself to a mission in life for social improvement. Like so many of us I just find it all ... Well .... Too big .... Too massive and issue to deal with.
That being said I have a huge amount of respect for those that do and one such man in Anthony. A dude who let us say had a somewhat troubled past and one day just thought to himself "Why are so many people homeless in this day and age" and set about trying to do something about it. It is a fight and a struggle to help and raise awareness that would have shattered lesser men and after seeing a lot of what goes on behind the scenes I know it would have broken me.
Ant just kept on fighting, its too long a tale to go into here .... But I was there when this dude told Ant that he did not make an appointment as he did not know the time. Ant just took off his stylish watch and gave it to the dude. And I mean without a thought.
Powerful moment and inspirational guy.
Chris Hale - Masterchef Quarterfinalist
I have been lucky to work with some kind of big names for my local punching power (More later) but the first real treat was to shoot for Chris Hale as he introduced his menu to the Union Street Cafe in Sheffield (coincidentally where Slaaw was based).
Here is pictured with project Coordinator Matt showing some of his treats.
Lovely guy too.
Charles Hanson - Auction
Bargain Hunt, Antiques Road Trip, Flog it .... A genuine TV personality for the Antique inclined and I was truly honoured to cover some of his auctions. I am also pleased to say that the cheerful and excitable successful auctioneer you see on telly is exactly the same man in real life.
Here is one of his team the incredibly knowledgeable Vanessa Savage is accessing an antique knife.
As he was leaving I was on the phone to my Mum and Charles yelled "See you later Chris" across the car park ... I said a cheerful goodbye before excitably whispering to my Mum "That was him! That was Charles Hanson!"
Aaron Casserly Stewart
One of the examples of being in the right place at the right time and one of the most wonderful of people and one of the most exciting contacts I have ever been involved in.
Aaron is a former Kansas American who has gone on to be a singer with the three times Grammy award winning Sounds of Blackness. He has managed Prince' keyboard player and is now on the board of some of the most important music institutions in the UK as well as continuing to manage Paradise Hill Productions for whom I still operate.
It is fair to say that since meeting Aaron I have enjoyed some of my biggest contracts.
I don't do weddings as a general rule .... but I did do Aaron's .
And speaking of Aaron .... When he was asked to be the interviewer for the documentary on longest reigning world cruiser weight boxer (Sheffield local lad) Johnny Nelson I was brought along to do the documentary stills for its promotion on Sky Sports.
I have not mentioned much about the images so far in this timeline section but I just love this moment as Johnny considers an interview question asked whilst he sips his coffee. Johnny tells his stories with a gentle sense of humour and quiet intensity as he eases between the high life of his boxing career and the early life growing up in times where racism was still very much rampant.
The Mary Berry Tent at the Chatsworth Show
Whilst I did not get the honour of shooting with Mary Berry herself it was one of the best honours I have had to be asked to cover the Mary Berry tent cooking demonstrations at the Chatsworth Country show.
It was a glorious sunny summer day and the smells of amazing food an easy shoot distraction. It was so much fun and an amazing back team.
I did however get to see Mary Berry and some of her performance ...
Would you like to know a secret.....?
She has to have her cookbook open on the recipe page as she is cooking.
Shhhhh ... You did not hear it from me.
I was waiting to be served at Sainsburys when I got a call to say that Jessica (who had been signed to Madonna's record label Maverick) was having a CD release in LA and they needed an image for the cover.
Needless to say that this was another commission through Aaron and I also covered the launch party. The single did really well and ranked in the top slots in North America as well as worldwide on downloads.
And I had to produce one.
A bit of a shock this one …
Jessica was signed to Madonna’s record label and her first CD was released in 2018 in La … I cannot show you the exact image but it was mine that went on the front of the CD.
Amanda Louise Ellis
And finally .... Without doubt the most important and not because she has been highly influential in my photographer life, but in my life too.
My most trusted friend, one of the most talented creative people I know. In fact quite possibly the most amazing person I have ever met.
I met Amanda whilst she had a make up salon in the Antiques Quarter and we got on fine. It was after this that we met for coffee to discuss a potential shoot as she was getting back into modelling and from that point we just totally clicked. She has had more influence on me as a photographer than anyone else. But far more than that as firm and truly trusted friend.
Without Amanda I do not think I would be here.
Got to name drop though as Amanda is not just a make up artist (Or MUA if you will) she is a film and TV make up artist who has worked on such films as Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows and Fast and Furious (Although I constantly forget if it was four, five or six.....)
Without Amanda's encouragement, guidance and friendship I would be far less confident a person and so as such ... Not just the most important part of my photographic journey but my life as a whole.
Image is one of Amanda's make up work on a shoot orchestrated by Laura Karin
Model in shot is Olivia.