Should you ever describe your photography or explain why you take certain types of pictures? Probably not, but what first made me want a camera was seeing the work of photojournalists like Don McCullin, and Brian Harris in the early Independent newspaper, and I also remember the impact of shows by Chris Killip and Sebastaio Salgado. This might explain my long term projects like documenting Speakers Corner, but having studied history at Cambridge was what actually led me to photograph historical re-enactment. Influences should never be simple.
Landscape has always been my other love. Again McCullin was an early favourite after I got his wonderful book of wintry Somerset landscapes in a harsh black and white. Others would be Fay Godwin and William Neill, while more recently some of David Ward‘s ideas have been thought-provoking. Yet just as much inspiration comes from my interest in art history.
I’ve written about 10 books on digital photography, the latest two published in 2014, but I didn’t begin as a photographer or even as a graphic artist. I had been a “spreadsheet warrior” and photography was just a hobby, but working for Heidelberg in the graphics industry I been familiar with Photoshop from about 1990. So while I loved darkroom printing, I also built up my digital skills with scanned negatives and slides, a “wet and dry” route. Then in 2003 I mentioned on my blog that I had just bought a Nikon D100, and this led to the opportunity to write the first of three books on digital B&W.
Advanced Digital Black and White Photography is probably my favourite. Partly that’s because I know it contained a few big firsts for books on the subject – Lightroom, Photoshop’s B&W panel, using SilverEfex, and smart object workflows. It’s still bang up to date.