Thursday, 14 January 2016

My Journey into Photography (a short bio)




I have been making images with cameras for well over 20 years, starting out with film cameras now predominantly using digital. I was aware of photography from a young age, my Dad was a keen photographer, as a small child I remember finding light meters in the house and using them as toys. I was also aware of the process as he would have makeshift darkrooms in the house. In the 70’s when I was at school Kodak instamatic cameras were quite popular, it was a compact film camera, limited exposure with a fixed lens and a distance scale for focusing, glorified pin hole cameras really. I had one with me during a school trip to London aged 11, I got some good shots of my feet while walking around Trafalgar Sq, accidentally tripping the shutter. Later on about 19 years old I travelled overland to India, unfortunately I wasn't yet a serious photographer but I took a few memorable shots, again with a kodak instamatic camera. I've scanned a few, but the prints are quite faded now. The film in the Kodak instamatic camera was smaller than 35mm, it came in a cartridge which just snapped into the body of the little plastic camera, you would then send it off for processing and get small square prints back. It wasn’t until I was about 30 that I caught the bug and took it up seriously after receiving an Olympus Trip 35 as a present. It was a metal bodied camera with a 40mm fixed lens, an inbuilt light meter around the lens, mostly mechanical, no batteries required. It was probably the first decent camera I had. Later I started using Canon 35mm SLR’s, and medium format twin lens cameras.

 Downtown Tehran, Iran. 1979.



Apart from some help from my Dad, I am mostly self taught. I did start a BTEC in photography and related studies in the mid 90’s but left the course, I enjoyed the related studies part but the actual photography Tutor seemed negative and uninspiring to put it politely, other students had similar opinions, a hardcore of die hards actually stuck it out. I learnt a lot more through my own efforts, in fact for something like photography, teaching yourself is the best way in my opinion. Everyone has different styles, you need to find out what works best for you and shoot from the heart, enjoy what you do. I try not to get bogged down too much with technical stuff, I know what I need to know in order to get the best from a camera, everything else is art, looking and seeing. The creativity starts the moment you put your eye to the viewfinder and start framing, constructing the image. With a lot of newbie’s its all about the equipment, which is all very well I enjoy the equipment side to a certain extent, but the more experienced you become the more you realise its simply a tool. You could have the latest state of the art camera but that wont give you great images, only you, the person behind it can do that. And I think learning with film cameras teaches the true fundamentals of photography. Its still popular with students, last time I was in London I saw three schoolgirls on Brick Lane, photography students with Pentax 35mm SLRs, I wanted to get a shot of them pointing their cameras at me, but they seemed a little paranoid about my motives, this can be a problem with street photography.

  A Leeds City Market Character



I enjoy most genres of photography, landscapes, abstract, portraiture etc. I had a spell at wedding photography, loved it at first, I felt like a film Director posing and arranging people, but after a while it became just more of the same. I thought it was actually stifling my creativity, I call it production line photography, next group, next group etc. I am not saying it can’t be artistic, obviously it can be given the right locations, but most of it is pretty routine and all the hard work starts after the event, editing and processing, not for me really. My real passion is street photography and social reportage, it’s become a labour of love, I like the spontaneity and unpredictability of it, you never know what you might come across. It’s also challenging, for me good street photography is about capturing something unique, unusual or something that is portraying a message, funny or serious. I have been inspired by all the greats of photography, Henrie C Bresson I like the surrealism influence in his work, Sebastiao Salgado's work is terrific too, and Don McCullin. Weegee (Arthur Fellig) was a big influence and inspiration for me. Weegee was a press photographer in 40’s and 50’s New York, but also enjoyed documenting everyday life, he was probably one of the first street photographers, and ahead of his time. In his later career he worked in Hollywood and did the special effects on the film ‘Dr Strangelove’. I am based in Hull City my home town where I grew up, we received the "U.K. City of Culture" for 2017. I have many good street shots taken in Hull. I also enjoy travelling about to do my photography, Leeds City is a favourite place, you can often find unique characters in the Markets, I like the streets of London too. Recently I put together an exhibition of my street photography which will be on show at the Islington Arts Factory, London, next May, 2016. I have a slideshow of the images which can be viewed on Youtube, follow the link @ www.timages.webs.com



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