PR agencies were hiring me to shoot clients they looked after. Then there were brands who would have some kind of celebrity ambassador for a product and I would either manage to sneak a really good portrait of them on that shoot or I would try and organize it myself with their publicist, completely separate to that job.
I was trying to keep a good rapport with peoples’ publicists. A lot of publicists for actors and sports people will say, “Look, I need to get some new promo portraits of this person because their old ones are quite old. They’re all press shots. Do you want to come and do a quick shoot with them?” And sometimes it would be for free but, they’d say, “If I get these into magazines, I will pass your details on to the magazine to pay you for the shot.” So you do the shoot for free, but you at least might cover your costs down the line. Early on in your career, you just want to get in front of those people.
How did you get started in photography? Did you go to school for it?
I didn’t. No, I used to just travel around snowboarding with my friends for years and then I picked up a camera and taught myself how an SLR works. I figured out snowboarding photography fairly quickly, not that I can say I’d mastered it but I figured out how to shoot snowboarding nicely because I was obsessed with it and I’ve read snowboarding magazines my whole life. I had an innate understanding of how it looked best on camera.
It was the portrait stuff I really had to teach myself, and lighting. I assisted a little bit, but I wish I had assisted more. I moved to London at 25 and, at the time, I thought that I was already old enough that I needed to just get straight out there and start working. Whereas now at 34, I look back and think that’s hilarious and I wish I had assisted for two or three years.