How I imagined my career would look.
Once upon a time there was a boy who sat in a cinema, in an instant he decided this is what I want to do.
Levi's Jeans have a lot to answer for, they photographed a cinema ad that changed my life..and no it's not the 'laundry - Nick Cave' one. Levi's produced a film showing the story of the Copper Rivet, and one section made it's mark. Photography shot in a copper mine of the extraction, transportation and subsequent smelting to create the copper was all dust, dirt, big machines and sunsets..at least as far as I can remember.
So sat in a dark cinema the 'light' switched on, I was going to be an industrial photographer.
The dream job-see really cool stuff, visit fantastic locations and all at someone else's expense, oh how the reality was very different. Stood in a Tyneside shipyard (Jan 1982) in the freezing winter cold as a photographer's assistant, under the RFA Sir Galahad holding a Metz flash gun and photographing rust on the hull of the ship in dry dock..that'll be the 'fantastic' locations!
I was at least learning my trade with a skilled and slightly angry taskmaster, who amongst his accolades was a BP Industrial Photographer of the Year in the 70's, of the many things I learned some have stayed with me, the picture is all that will be remembered - it's meant to be hard work - there's no easy shortcuts - everything matters.
Some of my own lessons learned - doing something you love and are passionate about makes you become your own worst critic, the inability to control the uncontrollable is very frustrating and no-one takes pictures as seriously as I do (I know many of my peers who would argue that one!) and being in business only adds an extra set of balls to juggle..oh and how to suffer angst!
One of my first aspirations was to shoot for an oil company, for me there was only one - a company that stood higher and more proudly above the rest, a company that had heritage but was always future facing, telling it's stories through great imagery.
My career to date has seen the transition from analogue to digital, and for me importantly the ability to post produce the image output. Coming from a background of shooting sheet film in everywhere from shipyards and steel foundries to factory interiors - even using PF200 flash bulb's you learned to 'GET IT RIGHT IN CAMERA' I still work this way on location but really am very thankful for the creative choices digital can offer in post.
A few weeks ago I did a shoot in an oil refinery - right up on top of a production vessel during a shut down, it's only taken over 30 years to get there..at least no-one can say I didn't keep working towards my first aspirations.
My career..does it look how I imagined it would..No..it looks better! There is still a hunger for the next project and there's still a few things 'on my list' to achieve.
- Career lasted longer than the girl I was with at the Cinema.
- BP - I'm available to take your call.