Lets start at the beginning....
This is how it all started. I left the UK at the tail end of 1999 on what I thought was going to be the trip of a lifetime. I had a working holiday visa for New Zealand and I planned to fund my travels through occasional work as I explored the country. As this was going to be my only chance to travel the world, I of course decided to take a camera with me. Little did I know that this old 35mm film camera would open up an entirely new world to me.
I will never forget the moment that I captured the waterfall image above (4th January 2000) and then finally viewed the processed slide. It was the moment that I first thought that perhaps, just maybe, I could actually make a little bit of extra cash by selling my photos to help fund my expensive photography hobby. Fittingly, that image was the very first image of mine to be reproduced full page in a publication - New Zealand Wildereness Magazine. I received the grand total of $100 NZD which I promptly spent on more film. And as I now had more film, I could take more photos. This may sound bizarre in the digital age but back in the year 2000, a roll of slide film cost me £9 to buy and £7 to process. As I was shooting slide film, and I was quite inexperienced, I had to bracket the exposure of every shot which I took so it was costing me £16 for each roll of 12 photographs - £1.35 a shot! This may not sound that much but when you are on a tight budget, I simply couldn't afford to shoot a vast amount of images.
I was lucky enough to build up a good relationship with the New Zealand Wilderness Magazine and I actually wrote a couple of illustrated articles for them which effectively funded my entire supply of film for New Zealand and the next destination... one that I hadn't actually planned to visit but as luck would have it, I managed to secure (thanks mainly to my work starting to be featured in magazines) a working holiday visa for Australia.
By the time I landed in Australia, I had started to become more critical of my work. So far, I had managed to have my images reproduced a few times and I had started to consider if I could actually make photography my main means of funding my travels. I didn't want to become financially rich from photography but I knew that I would need to improve my technique if I wanted to increase the income I could make from photography to enable further travel and photography. So I started to become far more critical of my work and the lighting conditions on the landscape when taking photos. In many ways I had simply been very lucky in New Zealand and it was the Australia trip where I learnt how to become a landscape photographer. The image above was reproduced the Australian Geographic whilst I was in Australia and was probably the image which made me realise that photography had actually started to become my life.
Back in the UK...
The inevitable return to the UK forced me to consider an important decision in my life. Do I find regular employment or do I try and make a living from my photography. I actually settled on a combination of both, working part time at a local hardware store whilst spending any free time shooting new images and supplying them to magazines. Within 18 months the unthinkable happened and I was commissioned for my first ever book - Photography Wilderness.
This book heavily featured my images from the previous two years in Australia and New Zealand, as well as my accompanying text covering hiking and photography. In so many ways this book was like a dream come true for me. There was a nagging doubt in my mind however that it was the exotic locations which made the book a success and I started to question my own abilities as a photographer. The logical step was to try and get commissioned for a second book featuring new images and captured in the UK. After a period of research and failed book proposals, I managed to secure a contract for my second book - The Cumbria Way.
This book was to be a mammoth undertaking. Being based around a 70 mile hike through the Lake District National Park in England, with a brief of capturing the images throughout the seasons dictated that I walked the trail on numerous occasions and captured an extremely large amount of images. For this to be financially viable I decided to use new technology in the form of a 6MP Digital SLR camera. The shot above was my very first successful image captured for the book using that camera.
I worked on the book for a couple of years (I did manage to fit in a couple of trips to Europe and North Africa whilst working on it) and it was released in 2006 to a great amount of media interest. I quickly found myself being interviewed by magazines, radio stations and local television. However after working on a project for this long, I hadn't really considered what I was going to do next. My girlfriend and I decided it was perhaps the logical time to go on another trip of the lifetime.
On the road again
The timing for this trip was perfect. It started off in Argentina and saw us visiting a number of new locations including Chile, Bolivia, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and China, as well as revisiting locations we had visited on our initial overseas trip to Australia and New Zealand.
In between asking my wife to marry me (who thankfully said yes!), I continued to work for magazines back in the UK in-between contributing to a couple of books based around hiking in Patagonia.
Inevitable the trip went far quicker than we would have ever imagined but before we returned to the UK, I secured a commission for my third book - Portrait of the Borders.
Books, books and more books!
The next few years saw me once again working on my own books. I developed a good working relationship with Halsgrove Publishing which was to see me release a number of books of them over the next few years including The Spirit of Cumbria, Spirit of the Highlands, Edinburgh Illuminated and Portrait of Tyneside.
In between working on these books, we got married and started a family! Any plans to travel overseas where put on hold and I decided to work entirely on a UK based project.
The Legacy Project
The Legacy project is a fascinating not-for-profit endeavour to capture the mystifying stone remains of prehistoric sites scattered across the British Isles. Ancient stone circles are a remarkable legacy of Neolithic Britain, their shadowy origins stirring the hushed whispers of fables and legends throughout the ages.
Moving beyond a mere appreciation of the aesthetic, the aim of The Legacy Project is not simply to record the physical structure of these stone circles, but to instil a complete emotional experience which conveys the ethereal nature of these megalithic sites. Through this photographic journey, I want the ancient spirit of the landscape to wash over you – for you to think, to feel, to imagine what once took place where the stones remain.
One last time...
Now that the children are a little bit older, and I feel the need artistically to celebrate the last twenty years of me being a photographer, we have decided to head overseas again on what will ultimately be our last great trip of a lifetime.
We leave the UK in July and are heading to the U.S.A, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. We are entirely self funding this trip through our savings and whilst I will be taking photographs for this project, I will not be working for any other clients during the trip.
A lot has changed since my humble beginnings as a photographer back in the year 2000, and as such I thought it would be interesting to shoot a documentary style film of me working (capturing new images) whilst also capturing the actual story behind the trip. Visually telling the story of this trip via the medium of video is something that greatly excites me. In many ways, my level of video experience is similar to what my level of photography was back in the beginning of this story. I am sure that I will make numerous mistakes but I feel the need to convey the entire story of this trip via the film which will be included in the forthcoming 'Twenty Years' e-book.
The reason for me running this Kickstarter campaign is to fund the following books:
50 Photos - A softcover 21cm x 15cm book featuring a selection of 50 of my favourite photos captured over the last twenty years, alongside accompanying text telling the reader the story behind the photos.
200 Photos - A 30cm x 30cm hardcover book (Black linen cover with laminated printed dust jacket) featuring my favourite 200 images from the last twenty years. The images are printed on 190 GSM pearl photo paper which are then attached as pages using durable library binding. A truly unique fine-art photography book limited to only 20 copies (all signed by the photographer).
Twenty Years - An electronic book delivered in PDF and iBook format (for Apple devices) featuring my favourite 200 photos from the last twenty years as well as including the 'One Last Time' documentary film.
I need your help for this to become a reality...
To make this happen I need a relatively small amount of funds. However, in order for these books to become a true celebration of the last twenty years of my life, I am hoping that we can smash the target. Every single penny raised over the initial goal will be used to help fund permits to photograph locations which would otherwise be unaccessible, will help to market the books, assist is the cost of scanning old slides and also to fund any additional services which could be beneficial to make the documentary film a success.
In so many ways this project is a retrospective look at what I have captured over the years... I am hoping that with your assistance we can make it a fitting celebration.
Risks and challenges
As this is in may ways a retrospective project, there are no real risk or challenges. I have been working on the images for the last 20 years so now it is just a case of shooting some new material to finish the book (and all travel arrangements are in place) and compiling the material. My only real concern is that I want the 3 books to fully reflect the last twenty years of my life... This is doable on the funding goal which I have set but every single pledge above this goal will help to make the finished project (in particular the film) so much better. But at the end of the day this is probably the artist within me and my search for perfection!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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