Born before the launch of BBC 2 or colour tv (oh Lord), I spent my childhood in Cobham, Surrey. Life was good. As I celebrated my 12th birthday, an aggressive buy-out of my father’s company forced us to move to a smaller house … and then to an even smaller one. As an added bonus, my education was an absolute disaster, and I left school at the age of 16 with a single qualification in English language. #soproud.
My first job was on the lighting crew of a West End theatre on the biggest hit in town, and it was all due to my sister, Debbie, who was a singer in Jesus Christ, Superstar! Told to ring the chief Electrician at The Prince Edward Theatre, I passed the interview and wasoffered the job. I couldn't believe my luck. However, three years later I found myself unemployed and back at the family home (my fault, entirely).
The job centre arranged an interview at a local lighting hire company, and due to my previous theatre experience, I found myself checking in to the YMCA in Welwyn Garden City for two weeks, and operating the lighting board at Elstree on Monty Python’s final film: The Meaning of Life. I was 21 and assumed that my professional nirvana had arrived. I worked on a few films and TV commercials before being offered a position with Link Electronics in Andover.
Link operated a small fleet of American-made video projectors that were capable of producing images 50 feet wide. At the time, Link ruled the roost and had lots of fun contracts and customers. Set designers began incorporating screens into all sorts of TV sets and I became a regular on Saturdays at BBC TV Centre on Noel Edmonds’ Late, Late Breakfast Show, down the road at the Shepherd's Bush Theatre on Wogan and up in Leeds at Yorkshire TV’s Where There’s Life.
One by one, all of Link's technicians were slowly pinched by Starvision. The giant Chelmsford-built mobile TV screen, Starvision weighed in at a massive 22 tonnes. The only direct competitor to Mitsubishi's Diamond Vision, which was seen on either side of the stage at Live Aid in 1985. These screens were popular at sporting events and music shows across the world. In 1986, a year after Live Aid, a Starvision was seen above the stage at Wembley Stadium on Queen - Live Magic, Now, that (below) was a cool job.
It was at this point that my interest in broadcast cameras and editing was born, and I found a job editing TV and corporate shows in a facility company based in Teddington. I was really green, but they took me on. Later, I was introduced to television news and a firm in Westminster (bravely) offered me a job. Now I was on a steep learning curve, shooting and editing political news for all sorts of ITV stations. Once I had a firm grip on what I was doing, I was loaned out to Central TV to work on The Cook Report, a current affairs programme that exposed the socially corrupt. By now I was shooting and editing for HTV, STV, RTE, YLE, LWT and BBC South East. It was a busy 2-and-a-half years, but great fun.
On joining Sky News in 1993, I spent 6 months in the Osterly and Millbank studios, before being selected to travel to Bosnia to edit reports on the conflict. I ended up in Bosnia a number of times, and those assignments have to be the most defining of my career. Fellow journalists I met (and have stayed friends with ever since), also went on to be affected by what they saw. Untold misery and avoidable deaths were right on Europe's doorstep. For a while, the UN did nothing about it, thinking that it was nothing more than a local dispute that would blow itself out. All we could do, along with every other broadcaster in the region, was to highlight was was happening and appeal to the better nature of the decision-makers.
The next stop was South Africa for Nelson Mandela's historic election victory. Denied the right to vote for so long, as racial apartheid had been the norm since forever, the sheer joy spread across the faces of those in the townships and out in distant villages was extraordinary. At last, the 'born free' generation was given a say.
Back in the UK, I joined the management team of Associated Press Television News (APTN), where I focused on quality control and teaching inexperienced operators how to film and edit news footage. After a couple of years, (again) I fancied a change, and APTN sent me to Paris on a freelance contract as a cameraman/producer. The brief was to cover French and European headline news, and no more than 5 months after I arrived, one of the most dramatic events I had ever witnessed happened: the death of Princess Diana. Somewhat 'over refreshed' on a final summer night out with some journalist pals, my phone rang around 2am and the news wasn't good. I found a taxi, grabbed my kit form the office, and made my way to the Pont d'Alma tunnel.
In 1998, I struck out on my own as a Parisan freelancer and became a frequent fixture with CNN and the BBC bureaux: the Americans sent me to Kosovo, and the BBC sent me out into the rough Atlantic in search of Ellen MacArthur. Thankfully, I went on to shoot for the BBC's flagship programmes Newsnight, Panorama, and Hardtalk, as well as football for ITV Sport and cultural pieces for Sky Arts.
Moving into corporate television, I established long-term connections with customers including Airbus, Publicis Groupe, the Paris International Airshow, Hélicoptère et Jet, the International Boat Show, and the International Chamber of Commerce. Digital photographic equipment was making a massive dent in the old-school film world, and the writing was on the wall. At this point, I made a sideways move and branched out into stills photography. Fortunately, I was represented by some of the world's more reputable agencies: World Picture News in New York, NTI in the United Kingdom, the Paris-based agency Le Desk, and the global library, Getty (the latter being the only survivor).
By now, I had lived and worked in France for nearly 20 years, but it was time to return to the UK.
With headline news and editorial pieces finding their way onto social media platforms, the internet was quickly becoming a more appealing stakeholder. The need for branded and promotional content was increasing, so that was the route I was going to follow.
Online's insatiable appetite requires a constant demand for high-quality assets. You may have realised, but I love dealing with images.
With a proven record of where and how to use them,
I would be delighted to help shape your digital future.