Could you write a brief pen portrait about yourself and your career?
After leaving Bolton School I studied photography for four years, an OND course at Wigan which enabled me to go onto Swansea to take an HND in commercial photography. Whilst taking a post graduate course at the Bournemouth College of Art I worked with an agency specialising in Ski Photography and lived in Meribel in the French Alps. I spent a further three seasons as an action/extreme ski photographer working across the Alps in Winter and on the Austrian glaciers in the summer.
In 1992 I settled in London as a news photographer and over the next 15 years, attached to The Daily Telegraph, my assignments took me all over Britain and to more than 100 countries worldwide: capturing the Iraq War with 16 Air Assault Brigade, political campaigns and general elections with Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair. However, it’s as a royal photographer that I’m probably best-known. From 1992 to the present, I’ve recorded at all the great state occasions. I toured the world with the late Diana, Princess of Wales, being invited to join her private entourage as she led her campaign against landmines in the developing world, and photographing Prince William for his 18th birthday. During that time I received several awards for my work, including News Photographer of the Year and Royal Photographer of the Decade.
Since leaving the Telegraph in 2008 I have been running my own company, being commissioned by clients to cover events globally, including personal work for the British royal family and the International Olympic Committee with their President Thomas Bach. It’s through my work with the IOC that I’ve had the pleasure to meet and photograph another Old Boltonian, Sir Philip Craven (1961-1969), President of the International Paralympic Committee.
What is your connection to Bolton School? Were any other members of your family here?
My Bolton School story began in 1976 in form 1A, based over at Park Road, following my father who was an Old Boy and my older sister who had started the year before in the Girls’ Division.
What is your fondest Bolton School memory?
Too many to mention all! I was a very keen swimmer and have very good memories of the hours in the pool with great team spirit across all the year groups. The swimming squad always had a family feel to it. I loved the variety of societies and clubs at the School: the New Music Society, Film Society on a Friday night … the list of activities was endless. In the Sixth Form I joined the school Venture Scout unit under Dave Allen and Scout Master Roger Kirk. Having always been a keen Scout I took full advantage of the expeditions and outings organised for the group and through the Rock Climbing and Photographic Societies found my future career.
Did any member of teaching staff particularly inspire you while you were at School?
Looking back it was the entire teaching staff – their attitude and guidance – which I now appreciate. Dr Colin Chambers was the head of Science, but also a keen photographer, and responsible for me finding my way into photography as a career. The Photographic Society taught me the basics of technique and the practicalities, but Colin inspired the creativity. When I fell short (to put it politely) academically, Dr Chambers suggested photography as a possible pathway and one I’ve never regretted.
What do you feel your experience at Bolton School has given to you personally?
Friendships which I still have. Appreciation of life skills. Traditional values. Hard work ethos – nothing in life comes easy!
What is the best career advice you can give to Bolton School pupils today?
Work as hard as you can in School. Teachers really do know best. Travel whilst you’re young. Don’t be a photographer – sadly the business is not as it was. It’s better to work hard, get a good job and enjoy photography as a hobby. In the words of Sir Richard Branson, ‘If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later’.
What do you think about Bolton School’s 100 Campaign aim to re-establish genuine open access through its bursary fund?
Essential. Children who have the academic or creative ability, but whose parents lack financial means, should be able to benefit from the wonderful environment, history and educational society that is Bolton School.