I’ve been fortunate to survive in the professional photography industry for over 30 years and in that time forged a successful and fulfilling career in something that I had a passion for from a young age.

What I feel has kept me going is moving ever onward, making sure that I’ve stayed up to date with new technology and practices.

When I first started in the industry over 30 years ago my first role was to work in a darkroom processing film and printing images for a company who produced prints for estate agents.

In those days estate agents would come in with a roll of 35mm film with a handful of images of a property and we would process the film and print of hundreds of copies of each image, so the agents could send it out to potential buyers…how the industry has changed!

I left that role and started working for many different commercial photographers mainly in London and Bedfordshire and this was my real grounding in the industry as I was introduced to medium and large format cameras.

Everything had to be so precise as it was mainly studio products we were shooting and one shot of say a bottle of perfume would take a whole day by the times shots were processed, checked and finally approved.

So we learned how to be patient, extremely patient and most importantly we were perfectionists.

Back in the 80’s and early 90’s job opportunities and trainee positions were easier to find than they are today, there were two job agencies in Oxford Street, London who specialised in photography jobs only who I think were called Just Photographic (it was run by a lady called Justine) and another whose name I can’t recall. They would both regularly contact me and I would go for interviews everywhere I could….it was the perfect ‘apprenticeship’.

Over the years I learned photography, darkroom processing, printing, retouching images with inks and a few years later set up my own business in Bedford UK.

Abraxas Photography was a name I came up with for a simple reason…it started with the letter A. There was no internet 25 years ago so the main place to advertise would you believe was Yellow Pages and as the company who worked for back then started with the initials A C we used to get a number of enquiries as we were always listed first in alphabetical order.

So Abraxas Photography was initially set up as a commercial photography company that I gradually built up over the years and have produced work for well-known brands including Rolls Royce, Coca Cola, Tesco, Texas Instruments, Crayola, Autoglass to name a few.

The job has allowed me to travel and meet some great people over the years, I’ve been stuck in studios and darkrooms for days, been up in planes, helicopters and airships, been knee deep in mud on constructions sites, been on stage at Reading with bands and met music and film legends along the way.

During this time an old boss of mine asked if I would help him with wedding photography which I went along with as I had little else to do on Saturday’s back then! Before I knew it I’d spent three years being expertly trained in wedding photography…all unpaid….and was then asked to go any buy my own equipment as I’d be shooting weddings on my own.

A £3000.00 loan from my parents bought me a Bronica SQA Medium Format camera, spare film backs, tripods, bag, Metz flash etc…. almost thirty years later I’m still shooting weddings.

In amongst all of this I also decided to take my teaching degree and have since gone on to teach photography from beginners City & Guilds, NCFE to A Level, BTEC, HNC and HND for various colleges.

A few years ago I set up The Bedfordshire School of Photography and we now run our own classes at Levels 1-3.

In 2009 I had to make the decision to change from shooting film to digital, it was quite a late transition compared to other photographers but I always felt at the time the quality of digital was nowhere near that of traditional film. However film support in the industry was beginning to change so it was a decision that obviously had to be made.

My first digital camera was medium format that had both film and digital backs that attached to the body… It cost £7000.00 and was without doubt the biggest waste of money. It had 400iso maximum and was shockingly bad! I was fortunate enough to sell it on eBay and lost £1000 or so on it.

I also purchased Fuji S2 and then the Nikon D3, a truly remarkable camera. My main decision for buying it though was that it had dual memory card slots which meant I could back up every shot.

Since then the darkroom has gone and been replaced by Photoshop and Lightroom which had to be learned and I now embrace this technology by staying up to date with the latest versions.

The photography industry is now also incorporating video so a few years ago I invested in this and never looked back…it also meant having to learn another Adobe software…Premiere.

At the beginning of this little biography I mentioned that I’ve remained in the industry as I’ve always attempted to keep up with new trends and practices and the latest addition to everything has been drones.

My advice to a younger generation starting out is to get lots of experience with as many different companies as you can and then set up on your own. You have to learn the industry, college and university is not enough to be successful in this industry.

Work hard, really hard, work long hours, really long hours, embrace everything new and you may have the beginnings of a career.