Celebrating 30 years behind a lens!
Photo credit: Blue White
I cannot be sure of the exact date my career in the Photography industry commenced but it is within a few days of the 7th September 1987 when I took my first proper full time job at the Cheadle & Tean Times & Uttoxeter Echo at Staffordshire aged just 18. My first role was as a colour printer and processor in the busy production office at the paper's base in Cheadle however it was pretty much what you would call starting at the bottom producing prints for the public on an old 'Kiss' machine which seem to favour green or magenta tones on most of the images printed.
This was my 'workstation' back then in 1987. Before Long I was given the opportunity to try my hand at being a press photographer - I had no idea on how to work a camera and had failed most of my exams at school so I had no career path at that point other than aspirations to become a graphic illustrator or a millionaire. So began the long journey to being a competent photographer - it was not easy as I struggled with the technicalities but I was gobby and good with people plus the quality of the printing press was questionable so my dodgy exposures were often hidden by the poor reproduction. Thanks to Paul Campbell the Editor and his Sister Pam who was the chief photographer at the time and went off to have twins, I had my chance. During that time I made some life long friends and took my first trip abroad - a booze cruise to Sweden with the rest of the staff!
Late the following year I lost my Brother, Chris at 16 and my life turned upside down. I struggled along for a few months but was not in a good place and ended up back at Alton Towers and stacking shelves in Kwik Save. I also ended up of no fixed abode and spend a while clearing campsites in France and sleeping on a pub floor in Manchester. It was a dark time bet eventually after a stint as santa's photographer elf I got a job as an instore Portrait Photographer, travelling around the UK and working in Shopping Centres wearing dodgy suits and even dodgier ties!
This suited me fine - a different town every week, living largely in guest houses with brief stop overs at my parents house in the midlands, and a camera that had the aperture and shutter speed dial screwed down - ie: very basic photography. I did this for a couple of years before moving to Scotland where I worked for a similar company before becoming general manager and getting involved in other aspects of the photography industry. I learned to sell - something that did not come naturally to me, I learned to teach other photographers and I got the chance to be creative and come up with new ideas. for 9 years or so I worked in various In-store child portrait companies, once managing a fixed studio in the centre of Glasgow and also working as an area manager covering Scotland, Northern Ireland and The North East. It was a short position with an upmarket studio however that took me to another level and also gave me the technical skills that were missing. Jays Photography run by Alan & Laura Jackson with a further three staff - Bette (Laura's Mum, Leica (the pet dog) and lab genius - Kenny. Here I learned how to actually use a camera - Alan taught me how to shoot weddings and I developed my own style of portraiture using medium format cameras - I had recently become a Father and was struggling financially though so when an offer of a company car and a £15K salary as an area manager came about I felt I had no choice but to take it. More travelling around, stress, personal problems, depression and recently diagnosed type one diabetes meant I was on a rocky road and everything came to a head after spells in hospital, and the company I worked for went bust owing me a couple of months wages. The upshot was I lost the plot and lost my home. The nineties finished for me as they had started.
At the Millennium I was working in bars and fitting carpets in the midlands before a chance phone call changed everything - One of the directors of the company I previously worked for had a studio in Cobham, Surrey and I was offered an interview as studio manager - I got the job and my life changed for the better - for three years I worked at Dawson Strange in Cobham and helped remodel the portraiture business to a more contemporary style - this led to a trip to South Africa to teach the style to studios out there and regular upmarket weddings - it was just at the end of the days of film - an exciting time in the world of photography - digital was starting to take hold and for me this was a blessing - my exposures were never what they could be and I still struggled with the tech stuff - ironically digital worked for me as I could see the images on the camera which was a revelation for me and along with grasping photoshop I was developing nicely! (pun intended)
And so in 2004 I left DSP and formed my own business in the town of Leatherhead, renting a studio space above a shop in the high street which was my base for ten years before working from home and moving out to the Hampshire countryside in 2015. The following is a collection of photos taken during that time to celebrate my career as a photographer and finally being able to consider myself a pro - it has been 30 years since joining the newspaper in Staffordshire with so many stories to tell, incredible experiences and some testing times - my life has often been unconventional and is often surreal but the thing I have learned over the years is that its not the camera that makes you a photographer it's how you see the subject - As I head towards 50 I am learning new skills, I write, I am a PR Consultant, I do a bit of radio and I teach - see - you can teach an old dog new tricks! Enjoy the pics! (click on the individual photo to learn more)
So there are just a few highlights of my career so far - of course there are many more! For the past two years I have been getting them all down on paper which will eventually become my book "Tales of A Full Time Flasher" While I have the opportunity I would like to thank all of the people who have shared this journey with me over the past thirty years - I have made some wonderful friends and many of them have stood by me during the testing times even when I have withdrawn into my shell. I thank you all.
Andy Newbold 7th September 2017, Hampshire