I lived in a council house on the ring road in Liverpool (Queens Drive) – and had very supportive parents (although I might not have thought so at the time). I went to a Catholic Boys’ Grammar School, St Francis Xavier’s – I and was very religious (up until the moment I was 18 – and then never went to church again!).
By the age of 18, I was sick and tired of academic life – and just wanted to get on and work. I was the only boy in our sixth form not to apply to go to University. I had the grades – but decided to undertake a vocational course in Press Photography for a year. Before that, I’d had to make some difficult career decisions. I had a large model railway set and thought a career as an engineer might be interesting. Tempered with that, I had a keen interest in photography. Luckily, I decided to sell my model railway set – and buy a better camera!
Once I’d decided to follow a career as a press photographer, I really did not apply myself to A Level studies. I could not see the relevance. However, I did want to learn relevant skills – and I made one of the best decisions of my life … to learn how to touch type. I spent many hours (when I should have been revising for my A Levels) sitting at my sister’s old typewriter in my room teaching myself to type. It’s a skill I still use today – and think it’s essential for any youngster to learn. I am sure that access to computer keyboards will make it a more natural skill for this generation of youngsters.
In pursuing my love of photography – the dream was to be able to photograph Liverpool FC at Anfield. It was virtually impossible to get access as a photographer (still is today). A friendly photographer at the Liverpool Echo tipped me off that a paper called “The News Line” wanted a photographer to shoot the first 10 minutes of each match on colour film – in return for a photographer’s pass. “The News Line” is the newspaper of the Workers Revolution Party (WRP) – and at the time was the only colour daily newspaper in the UK. I didn’t ever read the paper – but was always very proud of my colour picture on the back page after a Liverpool or Everton match. One of the pictures I took – of a fan with a dart in his neck – ended up being named on of the 100 best football pictures of all time. I bet the WRP would be surprised at the help they gave to my career!
The entry of Getty Images and Corbis (100% owned by Bill Gates) into the photography business in the mid-90s set us on a fairly inevitable course of a trade sale. Getting venture capital and angel finance on board at the end of the 1990s also dictated this route. It was a testing process. From 1997 […]
In the late 90s, there was a lot of pressure on photography agencies. It seemed likely that sports rights holders would lock out photographers – and create/sell their own photography. We pursued a strategy to work closer with these rights holders – and provide them with solutions that might benefit their business. Hutchison 3G had […]
I first heard the term “funemployment” back in 2009. There was an article in the LA Times that summed up the “situation” I was in after selling my business, EMPICS. It had been a challenge to give an answer when, in your 40s, and people ask politely what you do – or forms arrive that […]
In 1981, I started my first job after school as a Trainee Press Photographer at Mercury Press Agency in Liverpool. I’d not bargained for my first week in employment to involve the coverage of some of the worst rioting on mainland Britain. I’ll always remember the phone ringing late at night after the family had […]
One of the best trips of my life was to to photograph the return to international sport of South Africa, after the end of apartheid and the release of Nelson Mandela. I accompanied the team to India – and the experience was unforgettable. We arrived late at night in Calcutta. We had a long time […]