About & Contact Me
Whether it's wild, stormy and brooding, or reflective, calm and serene, the sea stirs me deep inside. A distant horizon evokes a sense of adventurous freedom. The optics in a raging tempest sets my adrenaline coursing. While the flaring hues and mirrored reflections in a glorious dawn or dusk fill me with wonder. That's why being beside the ocean with my cameras makes me feel alive!
The call of the sea has been there ever since I was a child playing on remote bays along the Sussex and Kent shoreline. Yet when I first laid eyes on the Cornish coast in 1974, I fell under the Atlantic's spell. The crystalline clear water and emerald waves were mesmerising. In exploring them with my snorkel, fishing rod and bodyboard, I had found my element. When the holiday came to an end, I precociously told my parents that one day I would live in Cornwall.
As for photography, both grandfathers and my father were keen amateurs. I loved their 'magic lantern' evenings when their slides were projected onto a large screen. This was back when TV was a small, grainy, black and white. So seeing our family escapades up big and in glorious Fujicolor, Kodachrome or Agfacolor made a real impression. I was fascinated by the opinions on whose composition and film choice captured this scene, or that hue better, and I always had my own opinions. This was duly noted and for my 9th birthday a 35mm Kodak Instamatic led me into the world of capturing moments.
At Secondary School the brilliant Head Of Art, Mr. Bowerman, took me under his wing and gave me free rein of his jealously guarded photography department. Here an Olympus OM1 and endless rolls of Ilford black and white film saw me developing my camera and dark room skills. Under his artistic guidance, I learned to use a camera and the developing and printing processes as creative tools to be freely experimented with. An attitude still engrained in my photographic psyche.
When I left 6th Form, Anthony Bowerman's shining reference gave me a shoe-in to Epsom College of Art and Design and thereafter into the bright lights of London's Advertising & Design scene. After starting out as a Studio Junior, I soon established my creative credentials and alongside gaining my own commissions, I art directed top photographers. Witnessing how they manipulated their light at first hand was a privilege. As was seeing how colour house technicians worked their magic in the dark art of film processing. I learned a huge amount and built my camera, processing and communication skills in equal amounts. However, unending 'sterile' studio shoots tempered my enthusiasm for personal work. I was in my 20's and away from the studio, adrenaline-fuelled thrill-seeking ruled the waves. So while I always took an SLR along on my adventures, it took a backseat to the surfboards, fins and kayaks.
By the early 90's the Digital Studio had revolutionised the creative industry and I was now running my own creative 'Hot Shop' in Covent Garden. Through overseeing my Mac operators, I had fully embraced the amazing imaging capabilities of Adobe Photoshop. After an unstable start, once Apple launched the Power Mac, this RAM-hungry software transformed our commercial outlook. Now, armed with potent imaginations, computers, and software, business was booming.
However, there was one big 'but'
!I remained wholly unimpressed with Digital photography.
I shunned the ugly hybrid cameras with their ludicrous +£20,000 price tags, temperamental operation and dodgy 2MB image files. They heralded a horrid period when professional photography was dragged through the mud by over-zealous post processing. Outrageous colour enhancement and retouching soon gave rise to the derisive term "photoshopped". I hated such blatant over-manipulation and the dismissive public attitude it had rightly elicited. As a result, I persisted with film and hi-res scanning for the best part of seventeen years.
That was until 2009, when I witnessed what the fantastically capable fusion of Full Frame sensor, Raw File format and Photoshop could achieve. This dynamic trio finally won me over and my photography was transformed overnight. Not only on the commercial side, where lucrative photography income was streamlined and brought fully in-house. But down on my beloved tidelines, where the DSLR set me free!
No longer would frame-counting shackle my impulse to shoot. There was no more hassle of loading a film on a windy beach. And the exposure triangle was rounded-off by the ability to change ISO at will. All this, in conjunction with a range of Lee filters, a powerful flash gun, and my experimental approach, began to work wonders.
The timing of this digital revelation could not have been better. For by now my appreciation of natural, wild surroundings was becoming profound. Since childhood I had always noted and enjoyed the beauty in Nature. By my early 30's, I was often moved to tears by the beauty and spectacle I witnessed on my coastal adventures. Now, in my 40's, I positively yearned for such remote shorelines and distant islands. In my search for new places and experiences I travelled extensively, and my cameras were constant companions.
International destinations were fascinatingly diverse, yet Scotland's breathtaking West Coast and Hebridean Isles drew me back time after time. As did Cornwall's coastal majesty. Where the more I explored, the more I realised this was the perfect place for Seascape photography. For beyond an unrivalled variety of spectacular coastal locations, there's the wonderful 'Atlantic Light'.
It was JMW Turner, who first attested to this Cornish coastal phenomenon on his initial foray across the River Tamar in 1811.* His visionary artworks are a huge influence on my Seascape approach and I can only strive to capture my light in the way he so masterfully expressed it. Moreover, on top of the incredible light quality, the Cornish peninsular's geographic aspect provided the ability to shoot sunrises and sunsets at stunning locations just a few miles apart. Nowhere else in the UK mainland affords the same opportunity, so Cornwall became my Seascape focal point.
As 50 approached, the call of the sea, alongside a much needed change of lifestyle and commercial direction became my overwhelming driver. For while I had loved my career, after three decades, London's bright lights were fading and I craved new photographic challenges and horizons.
In 2011, after being cajoled into entering by my darling other-half, Sam, I won the coveted 'Cornish Point Of View' photography award. This gained me wider recognition and led to my first solo Seascape exhibition the following year, that proved to be very successful.
With my confidence boosted, I created a brand around my new logo, where my initials were shaped by a verdant leaf - A leaf captures light and turns it into energy and I saw this as the ethos behind my work - and launched my first photography website. With the ensuing print sales from the online shop combining with private commissions and stock library royalties, I began to generate 'Seascape' income.
However, being realistic, I knew these revenue streams would never be reliable enough to build a business on. Neither would looking toward traditional commercial photography because the market was reaching saturation point. The ever-increasing number of photography graduates and cheap online stock libraries was seeing penny-pinching clients starting a race to the bottom. Therefore I sought something new and different. An income source that balanced my professional talents with my new life-style aspirations.
As a result, over the last few years of travelling with my cameras, the germ of an idea had grown into a fully-costed business concept. I would bring my many assets together to offer a unique take on the booming photography holiday/workshop market.
The ongoing surge in digital camera sales was seeing a host of new and experienced photography enthusiasts looking to advance their experiences and skill sets. On my journeys I had often witnessed a group photo-tour descending on a location. My heart would sink as the minibus pulled-up and a bustling hoard would swarm the beach, loch, fjord or lakeside. My shoot was compromised and it was time to move on.
Beyond the big profits running such a course offered the host, I tried to imagine what the attraction could be for the clients? Because, for me, photographic inspiration comes with the freedom to roam and being far from the madding crowd. I would never consider undertaking a shoot in this manufactured, 'production line' way, so I put my money on there being many like-minded people out there, who might recognise the benefits of a solo course.
Likewise, I had also seen many individual camera-toting clients being led around a location on a photo day trip. The host would be pointing here, and making the client stand just there and directing things around a pre-conceived composition. Leaving me to question just how effective such a short course would be in terms of genuinely effective learning opportunities and location diversity, given the time restraints involved.
Moreover, in both the group tour and day trip formats, while there may be bit of a 'show and tell' back in the bar, no course offered any real expert post-processing tuition. I consider image processing as a fundamental facet in the art of digital photography. So bearing in mind my professional photographic experience and Seascape passion, I decided I could offer something much better.
In February 2013, I finally kept my childhood promise and moved to Cornwall. A few months later I started to advertise my Cornish Seascape Workshops and the response was immediate. The very first client was a professional Lifestyle photographer who liked the idea of a break shooting Cornwall, and wanted to learn how to manipulate Raw files through Photoshop. We had a great time, and she went back home very happy. In her workshop revue, she wrote "I never use the 'A' word but my workshop was Awesome!"...
Today, some ten years later, my award-winning courses have earned an international reputation for excellence and reward. Moreover, I am expanding my offering by building a dedicated Studio/Print facility alongside a guest apartment for self-catering Cornish Seascape Holidays.
Please visit the 'Workshops & Holidays' section for more information.
To contact me about any aspect of my photography and services you can email me at -
firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on +44(0)7850 569 409
* Many art historians agree it was this Cornish experience that set Turner on the course of expressing light for the rest of his career. In later years, artists of the Newlyn School narrowed down the special light conditions to the environs around St Ives Bay. Yet I have witnessed the effect all around the West Cornwall peninsular. I believe that anywhere clean, 'un-polluted' daylight pierces clear, shallow sea and reflects and refracts back off bright golden sand, will conjure 'Atlantic Light'.