My introduction to photography began around the age of 12 years-old when my father bought some second-hand darkroom equipment and started making prints from old family negatives in our blacked-out bathroom. Enthused by the magical appearance of the latent image in the developing tray, I quickly started making my own prints. Somewhere around the age of 14 my father gave me his old folding 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ camera. My other interest was aviation and, living just a mile from Prestwick Airport in Scotland, the natural subjects for me to shoot were the beautiful old piston-engined airliners that transited the airport. Little did I then know the path in life along which I was now heading.
In those far off days with minimal airport security it just seemed natural that I would pop into the airport police office to ask permission to go out on the ramp to photograph the aircraft. It’s hard to believe today but permission was readily granted with the admonition not to touch anything. No escort – just a young teenager with a camera innocently taking photographs. The security services would have apoplexy today.
I quickly discovered that I could sell my prints and my first published images, in Flight International magazine, were shot in 1968; I couldn’t put that magazine down for weeks and was amazed that I should have an couple of images published in such an august title that is still so well known in aviation circles.
My ‘day job’ became that of Air Traffic Controller at London’s Gatwick airport and this provided me with many contacts that would further my photography ‘career’. I had always been fascinated by aviation company photographers such as Charles E. Brown, John Yoxall and Charles Sims who took such glorious images of aircraft in the air whilst flying alongside. I knew that this was what I wanted to do and so, in 1975, I embarked on a spare time, 30 year career of air-to-air photography which took me around the world shooting some glorious aircraft, working with many famous pilots and flying with the RAF, USAF and Swiss Air Force.
The demands of air-to-air work required the use of color transparency film and a bunch of Hasselblads and I found myself being rapidly drawn away from my roots in Black & White photography; I always hankered to return to it one day.
During the late 60s I became aware of Kodak’s High Speed Infrared film and the gorgeous ethereal images it could produce. I was also aware that it could be difficult to handle. Much as I loved those images I realized that I couldn’t do everything, especially as a kid with only pocket-money for an income; I never forgot those images.
As the years went by I stopped the air-to-air photography and retired from ATC. Photography was still very much in evidence in my life but it seemed a bit aimless. I still fancied the idea of getting back to B&W photography but what, exactly, to shoot? I no longer remember the trigger that brought me back to infrared but I found Lifepixel’s website and had a Nikon D100 gathering dust. Serendipity said I should have it converted. As I mentioned before – little did I know the new path in life along which I was now heading.
My first images made such an impression on me that, apart from the odd bit of time-lapse work, I now work, (play?) almost exclusively in infrared with a Canon 70D, a Canon G12 and an EOS M. I normally use a Sigma 12-24mm (use the Mk 1 lens! – the Mk2 has a horrendous hotspot) and a Canon 17-85mm but a recent purchase is the Samyang (Rokinon) 8mm fisheye which I cannot wait to try out when the IR weather is right.
You can see more of my work including my air-to-air and Photoshop work here.