When I’m asked how I got into photography I always talk about being given a Kodak Instamatic as a child and how that started a lifelong love with taking pictures. However, there are three key moments in my life that happened about the same time which really set me off on my photographic journey, turning me from a hobbyist to making a living from taking pictures.
We’re talking about 1990 but the first moment happened a couple of years earlier, around 1988. A very good friend of mine had an Olympus SLR (for his upcoming gap-year tour of Europe), but there’s one shot of his he took when still at VI Form that stood out for me. It was a crowded room but he’d managed to pinpoint a couple at the back of the room and get them in focus while everyone else was out of focus. I asked him how he did that and he explained about adjusting the aperture to control the depth of field.....I thought he was talking in tongues but it made me determined to learn about this mystical technique. That was step one.
The second was in 1990 when my then girlfriend was given a brand new SLR (Canon I think) as a birthday present from her parents. I was so jealous... I knew my mum couldn’t afford such a present for me so I started saving up for my own camera. About a year later I had enough money saved for a budget camera and a couple of lenses. That was step two.
Finally, again in 1990, I came across an interview in Q Magazine (remember that!) with Lloyd Cole. I am a huge fan of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions and this interview coincided with the launch of his first solo album and subsequent tour. I was at an impressionable age back then and I freely admit I modelled my style on him, complete with desert boots and polo neck sweater. I noted with interest Lloyd's new long-haired look, but the thing that surprised me the most about the interview was not his new style, but my reaction. Rather than wanting to ape Mr Cole's new look I was more interested in the photo of him with the Eiffel Tower in the background, and particularly the guy who took it - Ken Sharp.
This was the first time I realised that travelling the world, meeting rock stars in glamorous locations and photographing them was an actual job! Perhaps that's something I do I thought. This excited me more than trying to write songs with the handful of chords I knew and form a band like many of my peers were doing. This was something much better, and something I felt better equipped to do, once I had enough money to get a camera. this, I felt was something I could make my own. This was step three.
Skip forward to today and whilst I am photographing musicians and bands, those mega-star gigs still elude me, but I live in hope. Having said that I did come close a few years back when, through a mutual friend, I got a photoshoot lined up with a big name. Unfortunately events overtook us and we weren't able to see it through - but that's a story for another day.
Below is an iPhone photo of Ken Sharp's image from that Q Magazine interview - apologies for the quality (found the magazine recently, hence this blog). To see more of Ken's work, here's a link to his website: www.kensharp.com