Why I Became a Photographer - English Photoworks
Many of you know that I made some big changes in my life to become a photographer. I gave up a successful career in education: for 17 years, I worked in independent schools in the UK, India and Malaysia, most recently heading up the Music departments in two international schools.
I have worked 'part-time' as a photographer for a number of years, and like everyone else, it began with a love of snapping pictures combined with an interest in the 'dark arts' of learning how the great practitioners produce incredible images. That journey is endless, and I defy anyone to say they stop learning just because they reach a certain level of technical skill.
Our move back to the UK after the years in Asia gave Valerie and me the opportunity to take stock: we had the opportunity to work in areas that we are truly passionate about, combining creativity, technical know-how and a love of being with people. We have settled in a new part of the country where neither of us had ties, and for the first time ever, we were able to choose somewhere not simply because this or that job took us there. We are in an amazing, beautiful place which gives our daughter a great quality of life, and can base our life and work there!
The years in Asia gave me an incredible number of photographic opportunities, and I was able to really sharpen up my skills. I worked on assignments in India, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, in some of the most fantastic settings. For all its craziness and chaos, India was an incredible place to work: there is so much happening there that it's almost impossible to take a boring photograph! In 2013, I made a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Varanasi, the holy city in Uttar Pradesh where the Ganges passes through. It's said to be the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, and is a goldmine for amazing photographs. I met and photographed dozens of Sadhus (Hindu holy men), pilgrims and many other of the colourful, weird and wonderful people there.
Anyway, lots of photographers will talk about photography as being a new way of seeing things. This is true, and you can read up about any number of compositional techniques and other technical things to do with photography. You will also need to know about lighting, portraiture techniques, creativity and marketing, and be prepared to learn to edit in Photoshop.
However, the reasons I have chosen this career are more down-to-earth, and primarily to do with what I can offer families: creating a document of their histories, and connecting them to future generations. I guess it's a lofty ideal but it informs the day-to-day operation of things - producing printed photography contrasts with the transience of digital-only imagery, and the idea is to provide my clients with tangible items that preserve occasions, memories and commemorate special times. Printed photographs help families keep their history alive, give children a tactile testament of the love their parents have for them, and may even instil some small sense of self-esteem in their hearts. There are few things more precious and irreplaceable than a treasured photograph, and we take this responsibility seriously!