My first documentary photograph

I worked in Darkrooms for the next nine years, the idea of becoming a photographer disappeared when I got my first motorcycle in 1978 then after that all my time seemed to be dedicated to supporting this ‘two wheeled’ addiction and having fun.

In 1985 I started to realise I needed to get myself sorted out and focus back on my photography. I used to go down the Newcastle quayside where there was, and still is, a great place called the Side Gallery They are well known for their promotion of documentary photography exhibition. I first saw the work of Finnish Photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen documenting the Byker before it all got swept away. I also remember seeing the powerful works of Don McCullin, the stark Black and White images once seen never forgotten.

In 1986 I decided to give up my job in the darkroom and to take a two year photography course at Newcastle College of Arts and Design. This photograph was taken at my local corner shop in Gateshead and is still a favourite of mine. We were in the store room chatting and the owner raised her arm to point something out, I clicked and got the shot. You can see the ‘McCullin’ influence with the way I printed it. Ilford graded paper went from OO (soft) to 5 (hard) contrast, I was always bouncing about 4-5.

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