It all started when my Auntie Pam gave me a Brownie Hawkeye camera for my 15th birthday. To compliment this, my uncle Len gave me a film developing tank and all the bits and pieces needed to produce a 6cm square “gas light” photographic print. This I proceeded to do with great zeal, learning by trial and error. I used my bedroom as a darkroom and my Mother’s baking dishes to contain the obnoxious chemicals. (I can still recall the smell now, but with nostalgic affection).

   Encouraged by my first “real” photograph of the London Bus and my interest in art and chemistry at school, it all fell into place when equipped with the right qualifications, I started as a Trainee Photographer with Associated Illiffe Press at the tender age of 16. “Illiffes” soon became part of the giant International Publishing Corporation (IPC). Now the stage was set for my interesting and stimulating career in photography, though I must say the early years were not easy. Words like muck and bullets come to mind. Like all youngsters in those days, you started as a general dogs body, making tea for everybody and doing all the less palatable jobs. (Boy, was it good for character though). In 1962 photographic methods and processes had changed very little over the previous 100 years or so. We were still using glass negatives, and the darkrooms were almost Dickensian with lead sinks and ancient mercury vapour enlargers. Thinking nothing of it, we used  (now) banned substances such as  heavy metal compounds, and solvents such as Carbon Tetrachloride and Benzine. Sodium Metabisulphite mixed with Acetic Acid made an interesting reaction—happy days.

  “Photographic” had 27 staff, including 9 location and specialist photographers for magazines such as Flight, Autocar, Nursing Mirror, Motor Cycle, Yachting World and my future favourite “Amateur Photographer” plus 2 Studio Photographers, 12 Darkroom Staff including 3 juniors, The Boss, Bill Banks, fondly remembered, and Admin Staff. We were all based at Dorset House, Stamford Street, SE1. I studied at the “Regent Street Polytechnic” ( now Westminster University) two nights a week to enhance my knowledge on all things Photographic.

  Magazines closed and shiny new ones appeared, along with new fangled technologies such as Computers--what possible use would they have? Cameras used over 50 odd years include: De Vere Half-Plate with an 8 inch Wray Lens . Voightlander Bessa 2 (120 Roll Film),  Mamiya C2 Twin Lens Reflex, Canon FTQL, Canon Fl, Canon Al, Canon T90, Canon Eos RT, From 1977 to 2003 my workhorse camera was the superbly engineered Hasselblad  medium format camera with 40mm,  65mm, 80mm and 135mm lenses. By 2003 Digital Cameras were good enough to compare with good old film. I used the fabulous Canon Eos I Ds Mark I for 5 years to be upgraded to the seriously fantastic Canon Eos 1Ds Mark 3. ( Remembering I really appreciate “the complete control” with  digital photography, having worked with fussy, sometimes fickle, film for all those years). Popular black and white films over the years included Ilford FP4 and Pan F. Kodak gave us Tri-X --superb quality for such a fast film. . Latterly, my favourite film was the almost grain free Kodak Technical Pan film which, alas, is no longer made. Colour was rarely used in the 1960's because there was no economical way of reproducing colour in magazines. When we did shoot colour we used Ektachrome”B” sheet film in the studio (25 iso) or High Speed Ektachrome Roll film (160 iso) outside. Later, the green Fujichrome boxes out littered the bright yellow Kodak film boxes at Press Events. Fujichrome Provia was my favourite, I must have used many thousands of 12 exposure 120 films over the years, and looking back, I wonder how I managed, getting the photos exposed with absolute accuracy, processed, sorted and delivered within hefty time constraints. The one endearing thread that has run through the whole of my career is Amateur Photographer Magazine. In the 1960's I developed film for the much respected Technical Editor, Neville Maude. "AP," it's photo offshoots, and the Studio have worked closely together ever since. By the late 1970's I was running a large Studio with staff serving many magazines. The mid 1980's heralded a time of great change, with new technologies developing in all fields, including Photography. The trend for "In House" Service Departments was rapidly dissolving. I suggested it would be desirable to become part of the AP team, while still working for the other magazines in our group. About a year after this Photographic closed down. Onwards and upwards technology edged us onto life in front of a Computer Monitor, rather than those atmospheric moments spent in the darkroom.---After a tricky start, mastering the joys of Apple, Hard Drives, Memory Cards, Pixels and Photoshop, 2003 heralded my romance with the digital age. Roll on, the past was good, the future looks good too.

Once upon a time----