I am a professional photographer!
That title doesn’t sit right with me even though it is how I
make my living but after years in the building industry to suddenly become
something that had been a dream for so long still seems strange.
The history of my full-time career as a professional
photographer only goes back two years, Purbeck Footprints as a business goes back
four years before that, but the seeds of what has become not just a way for me
to earn a living but also a way of life go back much further.
Wildlife has always been of interest to me as has history,
especially the history of how man has worked and lived within the landscape we
occupy. Photography fits in very nicely with this and with the digital age
making it easier and cheaper to take photographs of where I live it became the
norm for me to carry a camera around wherever I wandered. And I wandered a lot! Every spare moment was
spent out and about along the many footpaths that crisscross the Isle of
Purbeck and the wealth and variety of its wildlife was an obvious distraction. Getting
close to the wildlife that we have here quickly became a passion, with the goal
being to take photographs of these creatures without impeding their day to day
lives. No photograph is worth upsetting or stressing the animals that live here
and that is something I always keep in mind.
Over time my collection of photographs increased as did the
number of stories, myths and legends that I found: my interest in the people
that have lived and worked here runs alongside my love of wildlife and the two
are regularly intertwined. Now let me
make it very clear that I am no academic and have no formal qualifications in any
of the subjects that I mention here but over the years I have either taught
myself, picked up snippets of information from here and there, watched, listened,
learned and somehow managed to retain a few bits and pieces. I can’t remember
when I was invited to give my first talk but since then I have been invited to
speak to photographic societies, rambling groups and charities both on the Isle
of Purbeck and further afield. The talks that I give are usually accompanied by
my photographs and I use these to illustrate the landscape and wildlife of this
little part of Dorset. I do not use a script for these talks, but the stories follow
the photographs and I find it easy to talk about things I feel passionate about.
A couple of exhibitions followed and it was after a
particularly successful ‘Ten Days In May’ at the wonderful Durlston Country Park
in 2015 that I started to seriously think maybe, just maybe, I could make a go
of this photography lark! After much soul searching with my wife and family and
with a huge amount of support we decided that I would leave my relatively well-paid
job within the building industry and make Purbeck Footprints and my photographic
career a reality. Six months later, on April 1st 2016 (April Fools
Day…) I became a professional photographer and my life would change completely.
The main change is that I am now part of a collective that
runs The Old Stables in my home town of Swanage where I have a gallery to show
off and sell my photographs, this can only work with the help of the rest of
the collective and I am massively grateful for that. In fact, I am very appreciative
of the support that I receive from so many people without whom I would not be
where I am today.
The Isle of Purbeck sits at the youngest end of the Jurassic
Coast and geology plays a big part in its history, so I became a Jurassic Coast
Trust Ambassador. I enjoy giving teaching sessions to Duke of Edinburgh Award
groups about The Trust and this incredible coastline and use my knowledge of Jurassic
Coast in the talks and walks that I give.
So in short, I will never become a millionaire but then that
wasn’t the goal to start with, what I have is a chance to explain to people,
through my photographs, guided walks and talks, what an amazing place the Isle
of Purbeck is and how happy I am to call it home.