Probably one of the United Kingdom’s unluckiest photojournalists, I was born in Stockport near Manchester in a snowstorm on the 21st January, 1973 of a Cumbrian/Scottish father and a Mauritian mother.
I grew up partly in Rhodesia and mostly in south Cheshire and was educated in Newcastle-under-Lyme in north Staffordshire, England.
I first started taking press photos for Lloyd’s List and the Numast Telegraph and later for Impact Photos and Select Photo Agency in London and The Observer (though nothing was published). I cut my teeth as a photojournalist in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa during the early 1990s as the apartheid era came to an end.
I had my first image in a mainstream national newspaper, The Guardian, when I was just 17 years old in 1990. The next one was the front page of The Independent. I became a full-time professional photojournalist and journalist when I was 17 and had a lot of images used in Lloyds List and The Numast Telegraph (now The Nautilus Telegraph).
During the early 1990s, I continued to work as a freelance, shooting mostly Kodak TRI-X and slide film. During this period I covered a lot of pre-Christian festivals around the UK and news features. Aside from six months in southern Africa in 1990 and 1991, I also travelled to south east Turkey during the First Gulf War, though missed the exodus of the Kurds by a matter of days.
I left London for Mexico in the summer of 1994 and then worked in Panama City until 1998 working as both a photojournalist for SIPA Press and later Gamma-Liaison, plus the odd picture to AP and AFP. From 1996 to 1998 I worked as a freelance foreign correspondent on the Central America beat for The Guardian, The Economist, The Christian Science Monitor, The Miami Herald, The Miami Times, Lloyd’s List and The Globe and Mail. I was also the Panama correspondent for The Tico Times and a contributor to The Panama News and the Panamanian news magazine Vistazo. Aside from articles, I also had many images published in these newspapers.
Returning to London in 1998, I worked for a few months on the PA News picture desk as a Picture Desk Assistant under the Reich of Martin Keene and later as the Digital Picture Desk Manager for Panos Pictures.
Since then, I have mostly been consigned to the photographic wilderness and success continued to break wind in my general direction, leading to a considerable amount of privation and suffering. This situation was worsened by the dreadful political climate of the 2000s with a quasi dictator in the White House and a delusional chap called Blair in Number 10, aided by the machinations of a certain Mr Campbell (who, I think, must be a distant relative of Goebbels).
Despite this, I managed to hang on in both journalism and photojournalism, though was hit hard by lack of capital and the ever-changing digital scene. In the stupidest decision of my career I left Alamy after an arguement with the Head of Content.
A glimmer of sunlight in these dark years was a job with Floris de Bonneville as the London Bureau Chief of Global Photo. I also joined the Hollandse Hoogte Photo Agency in Amsterdam. Though as the digital era ushered in a chaotic and rapidly changing market, my fortunes declined somewhat, especially after I left in 2004 to work as a freelance foreign correspondent in New Delhi and shortly afterwards amidst the civil war in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Needless to say, cashflow and the total lack of responsibility of UK newspaper foreign desks left me up a Himalayan creek without a paddle and while I worked part-time as a journalist and photojournalist, most of time in Nepal was spent doing what I could in a dangerous environment which often lacked electricity.
Nevertheless, I persevered and managed to spend one year in the Everest Himalaya documenting climate change (only to be encountered by idiot climate deniers when I finished the editing – so no one wanted to buy the story) and the advent of Microstock – which pretty much decimated most chances I had of rescuing what I optimistically termed a career and profession.
In 2010, I was detained for three weeks by the Nepalese government (as China became more bolshi in the former Himalayan kingdom) and after my press visa was destroyed, was informed that officially I was a “backpacker” and had to pay a ransom of US$10,000 in “visa overstay” fines to a government which had granted me a press visa in 2005! The alternative could have been 10 years in Kathmandu Central Jail. Charming folk, Nepalese communists…
Since my deportation back to the UK, I moved to Edinburgh and worked with Universal News & Sport and once for AFP. I left Edinburgh due to poverty and headed off to Libya, though was waylaid in Tunis where I ended up covering the first elections of the Arab Spring there in late 2011 for The Scotsman and The Daily Telegraph.
By December 2011, I was in Madrid covering the election of the Rajoy government and then largely in Seville. Due to the extremely low pay and utter indifference of most foreign desks to my fate, I left Spain in 2012 and worked for some months in the UK before departing for Lisbon, where once again I was virtually marooned by Her Majesty’s Press…In 2012, I resigned as a freelance foreign correspondent from The Daily Telegraph in protest at the shoddy treatment, poor communication and terrible pay. Sadly, many UK newspapers now operate on this basis with freelancers.
Over the years and of late, I have had images in many leading publications (though have usually lived below the UK poverty line) including: Time magazine, The Times, The Guardian, New Statesman and Society, BBC Wildlife magazine, The Guardian, Elsevier, Trouw, The Christian Science Monitor, The Globe and Mail, The Scotsman, The Dallas Morning News, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Independent, GEO magazine, Lloyd’s List, The Nautilus Telegraph, The Daily Record, The Sunday Express, The Sunday Telegraph and many others via AP, Reuters and AFP. In addition, many of my images have been published in books.
I now work with a variety of press agencies for returns that most people in India would worry about. Though I still try to sell what I can and contribute regularly to Alamy.com, Hollandse Hoogte and maintain a historical, space and military stock image archive alongside my own called Lightroom Photos. Since 2010, I have also authored four ebooks (including a guide to freelance photojournalism), with some others currently in production.