Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire in 1949, the City was still bombed out after the war and had a desolate feel about it, there seemed to be no color and everything was grey. We had won the war but lived on rations and black market goods. Life just seemed like one big shit hole with a large black cloud looming over it with strange family issues left over from the Victorian era. My education was geared towards industry either to be a steel worker or work down the coal mines. or some other mindless boring job. My school discouraged any form of creativity except for my English teacher who pushed my imagination. There was something missing in my life, everything was drab and how many fucking times can one listen to ‘How Much Is That Doggy In The Window’ by Doris Day and other BBC light music and realize something is missing in life? Radio Luxembourg changed my life and in 1957 I heard Elvis for the first time singing ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and that was my epiphany from then on I wore my hair pushed back, started smoking cigarettes and eventually ran away to Hawaii only getting as far as Liverpool and walking the docks to find a ship that I could stow away on but the police found me and escorted me back to Sheffield.
What brought you from London to New York?
In 1964 my parents migrated to Perth in West Australia and that was a big cultural shock in my life. I didn’t fit in, my hair was long I was into different music and Australia at that time was in the grip of Surfing music but I was adopted by a much older crowd of university students that I became some sort of mascot for. I originally wanted to be a chef but in those days a culinary experience in Australia was steak and chips so I worked in a bakery and because it was a night job I had the freedom on weekends to be out all night and be free and get into all kinds of trouble. I had no parental discipline.
Where is home?
Before coming to NYC Sydney was my home, I lost my residency in Australia after staying away for more than three years. I love that City and my life goes on there without me. Now NYC is my home… I’ve tried to leave a few times but id draws me back time and time again. Once the grit of this City gets into ones blood it’s like heroin, hard to kick.
What sort of work do you specialize in?
I used to be a fashion editorial photographer but now I concentrate or at least try to on my own projects
Did you go to school to study photography?
I studied at the Twickenham College of Technology at nights while supporting myself working for Interarmco where they renovated Mauser’s and Browning 33s and other world war guns that they sold to waring factions of the world. They had no scruples so I made money on the side by stealing the old brass plates and brass cleaning cartridges and other metals that I sold to a scrap merchant. The place was like out of a Dickens era novel with everybody doffing their caps to the bosses, a subservient hierarchy that offended me..can I have some more meat sir…fuck that, so I had no guilt stealing from them. The college was good though and I learnt the mathematics of photography.
How did you get started in photography?
As I mentioned I started working in a bakery where I got into an industrial accident and paralyzed my right arm, at one point they thought that they would have to amputate it but I found a specialist that managed to save it. So being around 16 at the time with only one arm my father adapted a Minolta 35ml rangefinder camera with a harness and cable release that I could use with one arm I set out to look at the world. Being depressed and despondent about my condition I photographed abandoned buildings and discarded things on railway tracks. My Father who actually migrated to Australia to be a photographer was impressed with the images even though they were disturbing noticed that I cropped my images in the camera. He suggested that I go to London and study. Eventually my arm started healing and I went into the outback and work on a farm to save money to go back. If I got a job in the City I would have blown it on drink, drugs and girls so I went away like a monk on a mission and sent cheques home every month and every month my mother would send me 4 flagons of red wine and 4 packs of drum tobacco. That worked well when I had to plow at night with one spot light.
How would you describe your style?
I can’t but you can
Can you make anybody look beautiful?
Beauty is so subjective, everybody has an angle and an aspect of their personality that shines through
May of your shots seem to capture an aspect of the subject's personality. How do you see into people?
At one point in my young photography days I was a renegade / terrorist photographer shooting with intimidation which worked in that period of my life. Now it’s about trust and letting the person be themselves and let them be free to express themselves with out pressure, a little suggestion every now and again, I’m just a mirror now.
What type of equipment do you use?
I’m partial to Nikon F2s and Hasselblad’s but since I’ve lost all that gear I use a Nikon D300s which I fight with all the time. Actually my cat just knocked it off the table and broke it and snapped the mount on the lens. I could go back to a shoebox pinhole camera though and that would be fun for the type of work I’m doing now
Do you shoot in anything other than digital?
Film
What lighting do you take on a shoot? Or use in your studio?
I take one light. I was taught that all the different lighting conditions in the world has one light source, the sun, and when you think of all the ways that it illuminates the world say from the clean white light in Greece to the dark industrial light in the smokey gloomy manufacturing cities and the one to eight lighting in Australia one only needs one light and white and negative reflectors. There have been certain jobs where I have used huge setups though, Strobe Swimming pools with spots and fills but I try to simplify my work now
How important is Photoshop in your images?
It’s a tool…I use it as though I was in a dark room
Can you describe your photographic work flow?
Slow
What was one of your most memorable shoots?
My Midnight Oil & Rose Tattoo album covers, Playboy, Penthouse. one shoot where I closed down the City in Sydney where I was doing an apocalyptic shoot in foundations of a new building, I lit the whole area with distress flares that made it look like ground zero…of course I didn’t notify the authorities and all hell broke out, the airport was closed, cops and fire engines turned up and it all added flavor to the shoot… I was laughing the whole time it was fun and of course I was stoned.
What publications have your works appeared in?
Australian Vogue, Cleo, Cosmopolitan, Mode, Mode for Brides, Details, NY Talk, All the Tattoo Magazines, New York Waste and a lot that I have forgotten
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