If you are a certain age you will know of this man. In the early 80’s Terry Waite acted as hostage negotiator in the Middle East securing the release of many western hostages. He was eventually taken hostage himself, tortured and spent 1763 days in captivity, the first four in solitary confinement, those eyes have seen a lot!
Because I worked Saturday photographing the football for the newspapers I was given Tuesday off in lieu. in 1993 a miners co-operative got together decided to reopen Monktonhall colliery just outside Edinburgh. This seemed like a good second project to follow on from my ‘Life on the Tyne’ work so I approached them for permission to document their venture. They were very happy to let me take photographs and allowed me total excess to everywhere in the colliery including 3000 feet down onto the coal face.
Waiting for the shift to start
End of a shift
By the time I took this shot the miners had total trust in me and I became part of the background which allowed me to hang about for quite a while as these two guys chatted. This moment happened in the blink of an eye but I was ready for it and got the shot, just as well, it was the last frame on the roll of film!
After college I managed to get a job working for the MoD at 8 Signal Regiment in Catterick North Yorkshire as a civilian photographer/video operator. I had a good friend at college from Edinburgh who I had visited just before I moved to Yorkshire so even as I started off on this new job I’d already made my mind to move to Edinburgh, it was a city I had instantly fell in love with.
Two years later in Autumn 1990 I handed in my notice and armed with a couple of cameras, lenses and a flashgun moved to Edinburgh. I managed to get a part time job working in the local newspaper’s darkroom while doing some photo assignments here and there. My first front page cover was when I covered the Edinburgh Beltane festival which was held at Carlton Hill and ended up at sunrise on top of Arthurs seat.
I eventually got a job as a full time photographer which I did for 3 years before I decided to go freelance. I really enjoyed some aspects of being a press photographer especially the sport but there were other sides to the business which I felt uncomfortable with, being freelance allowed me to be a bit more choosy over what I did and I was also able to pursue more commercial clients.
Football is the main sport that’s covered by the newspapers, followed by rugby
both of which were good to photograph but it was always nice to get something a bit different like speedway
or Ice hockey
Working for newspapers was a steep learning curve and it taught me a great deal, even if there were some aspects of it which I personally didn’t agree with.
After nine years of working in a darkroom I decided I needed to change things and take my photography more seriously. I handed in my notice and did a two year course in photography at the newly opened College of arts and technology in Newcastle.
It was a great two years where I really started to expand my knowledge of photography. It was in the library where I started to come across books by Cartier Bresson, W Eugene Smith, Diane Arbus and Irving Penn. I’ve always felt one can learn more from looking at great photographers work the you can ever from a ‘How to take photographs’ kind of book.
I started a personal project during my first year at college, photographing the people who live and work on the river Tyne. By the time I finished my National Diploma I had an exhibition of these photographs at Newcastle library followed by a book.