So – hey there...This is my entry to win a place at the amazing Snap Festival...
My photography journey is a twisting and turning one.
When I was in my teens I remember my aunt and Uncle asking me what I wanted to do – I was super into illustration and skateboards at the time, so my response in all seriousness was that I wanted to draw cool stuff that ended up as skateboard deck designs. Skip forward to 12 years later, and that sort of stuff doesn't seem so crazy now that one of my friends is killing it with his illustration, which graces several walls in venues in London as well as Toy Machine skateboards. Funny huh. Who'd have thought …
I started photographing things when I was about 4. We would go on family holidays to Switzerland, driving across France, and my mum bought us all those small disposable cameras and a journal. Mine was pink (naturally) and it was the best nudge into creative thinking I think I could have ever had.
Throughout my growing up, I've always been fascinated how something as simple as a photograph, a still image, a stolen moment , is a complete window into another world. I used to spend hours pouring over a suitcase of old photographs that my parents had from their time in Africa (which is where I was born, but we came back when I was 1, so I'm the only one in the family who has no memory of it.) These photos looked like they were from another time (well, the 80s I guess and a bit before) – the world out there was just that little bit more dated and looked warm and balmy and I was willing myself to have some kind of memory of it. It was part of me.
So it didn't seem crazy in my teens when I starting shooting with my manual film SLR during my ND at college, that a career in photographing BMX (yep, I went from skateboards to bikes) wasn't an option. I knew several good riders, a couple who were sponsored, and 1 who took me under his wing to meet some guys at a local BMX magazine... but it still wasn't time.
I decided that my latest passion was shooting bands (it had nothing to do with the fact that a boy I had met was in a screamy, shouty grindcore band -yes, yes I know, you're learning all kinds of stuff about who I am today that I don't think you'd glean from looking at me...) that this started a basis for shooting things that now I look back, I didn't realise I was even doing. Shooting in a reportage style, getting candids of peoples' reactions – but really it was the passion that I yearned to capture in that still.
Music you see was a form of expression for Mike (the guy on the floor above) like no other. This was grief in it's rawest form, poured out through the lyrics, and each show wholly devastates him. When I was taking these photos, it was my way of acknowledging the grief. It's only recently, now that he's resurfaced in a new band that I realised it.
This for me is raw passion and emotion, which is why I've chosen a couple of these images as my entry for Snap Festival. I want to get back to my roots. I want to capture the raw emotion that's just below the surface in every one of the photos we take, be it bands, sports, weddings. This is what makes my heart beat faster, even typing this now. Photography for me, is my expression in it's rawest form, of my joy, my grief, my curiosity and without a camera I feel, well a bit naked.
I've had some serendipitous turns in my journey through making images, meeting some of my heros - Emma Case on a train back from Bath, which then led to me and they boy being the test couple for her Welcome Home workshop in Bristol, which in turn kickstarted my heart into remembering why I loved to photograph.
Meeting Lydia Stamps, through a mutual friend and then at the Welcome Home workshop (without realising who each other were after our mutual friend had talked to us both about each other...) who has been a huge support in me getting my feet back on the ground with shooting. She also shot my wedding. She's generally amazeballs. Going to Lisa Devlin's Photography Farm, which has taught me so much about shooting, networking and starting a business and helped me meet some kindred souls. At the time, I was getting married that same year, and I just wasn't in the right place to put everything in to practice, but being part of the group and being in touch with people has enriched and pushed me.
I feel like I'm now on the cusp of getting to where I want to be, slowly inching my way towards being able to give up that day job – and a place at Snap would fan those flames of passion and boost me in the right direction and hopefully make me braver than ever before.
Each time I've evaluated what I want to do with my life (from skateboard designing, to shooting bands and bikes and the like) it's always seemed like an in-achieve-able fancy, and for the first time, I feel like I can actually do this. It's time to stop pretending, and start doing, and lets be honest, I'd be foolish not to grab a chance of winning something like this.
Snap baby, keep my beating heart burning and burn away that fear.
*Apologies about image quality – these are scanned in prints from back in the day, long lost in the archives...