My interest in photography was inspired by my godfather, Erich Hartmann, who joined Magnum in 1952, and my grandfather, a keen amateur photographer who kept a complete photographic record of his life from 1900-1984.
At ten years old, armed with the most basic Pentax camera, Life Library of Photography as a reference, and a make-shift darkroom under the stairs, I began to take pictures and process my own film. For pocket-money, Martin Chaffer invited me to help in his studio, where he built and photographed room sets for Dulux and Crown paint. It was my first glimpse of a large format camera, lighting, and all that palaver. My eyes were on stalks.
My professional career took a totally different direction: I spent 12 years in the BMW organisation and 8 years at McLaren Cars, where I was responsible for technical documentation for the McLaren F1 and Mercedes-Benz SLR. My brief was to translate engineer-speak into something technicians around the world could understand. To minimise delay, cost, and errors in translation, I developed a text-free, web-based system using pictures like a comic-book. I trained technicians about cameras, lighting, and the benefit of consistent angles. At its peak, the team stripped and rebuilt two cars, producing more than 300 photographs a day. I realised then that nothing excited me more than photography.
In 2004, I looked for a position to learn the ropes as a professional photographer. I am hugely indebted to Richard and Lynne Bryant, with whom I became friends immediately, to everyone at Arcaid for their continued support, and to Grant Smith, who encouraged me not to bother spending a year as an assistant, but just to get on with it — and so I did.
I find architecture, and the process of architectural photography, hugely satisfying. Every assignment is a fresh challenge: new locations, new light, new people, new thrills. A building is sculpture on a vast scale; to step into a beautiful space is tremendously uplifting, and that has an affect on the people who use it. I am particularly excited by what people do with architecture. How do they use it? Does it change them? How might they change it, customise it, or otherwise stamp it with their identity? It's these questions that excite me and make me reach for my camera.
For precision, I use a large format camera, and a hand-held camera for speed. Until 2008, I processed my own film, including E6 colour on 5x4" sheets. Since then I have switched completely to digital, using a Leaf back and Nikon SLR.