I remember the first time I took a sheet of paper and placed it in a tray of developer. I was 13 and standing in this weird smelly dark-red twilight, swishing this bit of paper around. After maybe half a minute, nothing has happened. I swished some more. Suddenly I saw something faint on the paper gradually, very slowly, blossoming. The edges hardened into lines and suddenly I was staring at a picture conceived with my mind and made real with my own hands – formed from blackened silver, a real miracle of alchemy. I didn’t know it, but this was a moment of destiny.
I’m the bloke with the job everyone else envies. Every day I come to work, hang out with amazing people, play in the studio and go home late feeling just a little bit guilty because what I just did barely qualified as work!
My photography story begins a lot like that of quite a few serious photographers of the film generation. Actually, it begins with the Brady Bunch, so maybe it’s unique. I remember watching this particular episode when I was a little kid, and Greg was developing prints and hanging them to dry in the family darkroom (of course they had a darkroom). Coolest thing I’d ever seen, and suddenly I wanted to be just like Greg when I grew up!
As it happens, I turned out almost nothing like Greg, because I used to wear flannelette shirts, kept pet rodents and tried to impress girls by inviting them to view my extensive collection of pickled spiders. Greg just liked to surf and play guitar. But at least we had photography in common.
I became totally smitten with photography when I was thirteen and I was allowed to play in the school darkroom for the first time. We took photos with a camera made out of a wooden box with a tiny hole in it. I photographed the school bus and it was with that photo that I became totally hooked. I still have the photo.
The darkroom was closed for some reason the following year, and I ended up with a university degree and a career doing something sensible. I think I must have got some developer in my blood though, because I eventually found my way back to photography.
I received some great formal training and experience, including a lot of the arcane techniques such as mixing one’s own chemistry (a bit of sulphuric acid here, a few drops of cyanide there), using big clunky old single-shot film cameras, and learning a lot of obscure photography physics with names like “Inverse square law” and “Scheimpflug Principle“.
I’ve been lucky enough to win quite a few awards and I became a Master of Photography in 2007 – the same year as we opened the Hampton Rd Studio.
MOST EMBARRASSING PHOTOGRAPHY MOMENT:
There are two contenders here
- Being attacked by fish, while photographing a fish farm. I don’t really want to talk about it.
- I was commissioned at the eleventh hour to photograph a press conference where the United States Ambassador to Australia was speaking on the subject of counter-terrorism. I turned up at the last minute and was making my way into the conference room, heavy bag over my shoulder, when I was stopped by two gorilla-sized security men, who asked me what I was doing. I said “I’m here to shoot the ambassador”. This turned out to be the wrong thing to say!