I grew up around horses. My grandmother travelled the country to compete, my uncle trained racehorses and my mother was a keen team chaser. My competitive inheritance, however, came from my grandfather and another uncle (a world class sailor), and I took to the sea instead of the turf. I would go on to compete at national championships in several different classes.
At 15, I took up photography. I had the tremendous privilege of attending a school in the heart of Northern England’s countryside, and when I wasn’t busy photographing a variety of sports, I could usually be found knee-deep in a river, a camera in one hand and a fishing rod in the other.
Later, at the University of Durham I had the use of my College’s darkroom and was afforded many opportunities to shoot a variety of subjects for the university and local newspapers. I also acted as official photographer to a number of the university’s clubs, societies, and sports teams, allowing me the creative freedom to hone my craft, while giving me the experience of working to tight editorial briefs, too.
In the gap between my university courses, I gravitated back towards the world of sailing, crewing off-shore yachts and photographing the world as I saw it.
As my portfolio grew, so too did the demand for on-spec photographs in all aspects of my professional life. Now armed with a PGCE from the University of London, I went to work as a teacher, first of science and physics and, later on, of IT. Early on, I was asked to provide images for school magazines and latterly, their websites.
As reliance on top-spec web presence increased, I shifted my professional focus. For three years, I worked with a cutting-edge web agency, which worked at the forefront of web analytics and eCommerce. Later on, this sideline would become a small web development and hosting agency – still an arm of my business today.
I gravitated back into the equestrian world almost entirely by happenstance: an introduction from a friend saw me step in to photograph some local equestrian events, and when the results were published, I found myself fielding more and more requests from rural clients. It was then that I decided to commit to photography as a career, rather than a sideline.
When one of the major equestrian photography companies rang me up and asked me if I would work for them, I suddenly found myself with a calendar of event work, spanning the season from March through to October each year. This was a crucial juncture in my career in the horse world: by shooting for the riders, rather than for editors, I learned exactly what people want to see in their photos. Perhaps more importantly, I learned what they would never buy – and I realised just how often many photographers were offering up those throwaway shots.
You’d be forgiven for thinking I spend my professional life in a field or an arena, but actually, my photography business is a multi-hyphenate. Alongside working as an equestrian photographer, I also cover social and corporate events, weddings, and, increasingly, commercial work for sole traders through to major multinational corporations.
Commercial clients range from big multinational companies, who hire me for five days at a time, to sole traders who might need an hour of my time to photograph a single product.
I have lots of mains- and battery-operated lighting equipment – too much, according to my wife, who sees my office being gradually overrun by softboxes, beauty dishes and lighting stands! This means I am not limited to blogger-style natural light setups for products and can create catalogue product and pack-shots as well. Commercial shoots are bespoke to the client, so to get a better idea of what I might be able to provide for your business, check out my commercial portfolio and blog.
Between December and June I fulfil a voluntary role as Public Relations Officer for Midlands Pointing, the organisation that manages and controls amateur horseracing in the Midlands. This requires me to combine photography with journalism, as well as producing content for the web and social media.
To date, my work has appeared on the covers of over 40 national and international magazine titles, most of the national newspapers, and a couple of books too. Every month, I’m published somewhere – but it never gets any less exciting to see how, and where, my work has been used this time.