I trained as an English and Outdoor Education teacher in the late seventies and began taking photographs as part of my work in the outdoors. My first SLR camera was an Olympus OM1 chosen for two reasons – it was small and light which made it easy to carry in to the mountains and one of Britain’s best know bird photographers, Eric Hoskins used them. I progressed to an OM2 and stayed with Olympus until the early 1990’s. It was then that I made the change to autofocus and like many professional photographers chose to use Nikon cameras. I now shoot digitally and at the moment use a Nikon D4s.
My wildlife photography really started as an extension to bird watching, quickly developing in to a passion and a profession. I still enjoy watching birds but more often than not this is done through a camera lens rather than binoculars.
In 1988 my wife and I spent 2 weeks on Mull walking and bird watching. During our time there we saw a couple of wild otters, and I even managed to get some not very good photos. The following year we planned to go to Shetland and just before we went the BBC screened Hugh Miles’ film ‘Track of the Wild Otter’. I sat spellbound watching it. He had filmed the otters on Shetland and when we went we spent some time at the location Hugh used. However it was near our B & B that we had the most wonderful experience of otters close up. Two otters in front of us for over an hour and again the next day. I was hooked. Otters have now become something of an obsession of mine. Many hundreds of hours have been spent wandering along suitable coastlines, watching otters and often getting close enough to take photos. They have a very special place in my heart and are given their own gallery on this web site.
I try to do most of my photography close to home, going back to locations time and time again. In this instance familiarity means greater success. I travel around Scotland for some subjects; the west coast and islands and Shetland for otters and occasionally go further afield for my photography. Norway is a favourite country – it’s very similar to Scotland but bigger and even less crowded!
The digital era
Digital photography has brought many benefits to me as a professional. I can experiment with subjects and techniques and see the results immediately. Any problems can be quickly corrected, techniques refined and improvements made and this has certainly meant that more and more of my images reach the high standards expected these days. Photographic techniques that inevitably give rise to high levels of failure are no longer costly in terms of wasted film - flight photography being a prime example – and with constantly improving autofocus systems this also means a better success rate.
The digital revolution has brought with it the ability to produce exhibition quality prints at home. I use a MacPro computer and an Epson 3800 A2 printer for all my printing. I restrict digital manipulation to an absolute minimum – retouching of blemishes caused by dust in the camera, balancing colour and contrast to achieve natural looking images and the occasional removal of unsightly background elements. I never add anything to my images that was not there when I took the photo.
A growing business
The change to digital photography impacted on my business in a major way. I originally sold most of my work through a small picture agency but the owner chose the switch over to digital imaging as the time to retire. It was time for me to reassess how my photography should move forward. In 2005 I bought my first digital camera and set up my own web site. At the same time I began to exhibit my work locally receiving acclaim for the quality and variety of my images. Sales and enquiries followed and my reputation grew. FLPA, one of Britain’s leading picture agencies now represent me commercially and they hold a growing portfolio of my work.
In November 2013 I gained my Fellowship from the Royal Photogtraphic Society. The FRPS is the highest distinction that they award.
I hope you enjoy looking at my pictures as much as I have enjoyed taking them.