The first, and only, “proper” nine to five job I had was for a company which manufactured a photographic enlarging system. These were the pre-digital days where tanks full of chemicals and fumbling around in darkrooms were the order of the day. What I did not know then was how important photography would be to me later.
The workforce was small, just the two of us initially, which meant turning our hands to a number of skills. Working on a lathe and milling machine, producing working drawings and of course putting the enlarger through its paces in the darkroom. When it came to demonstrating the system to not only potential customers but to investors in a stock exchange floatation, I was the one for the job.
It was during this time I bought an SLR camera. I settled on a Pentax model and have used them ever since. The old film model now sits quietly on a shelf, replaced by a succession of digital models. The onset of the digital era would have been the death knell for the enlarger company but I was already long gone and had moved on to being an architectural technician. There was occasional use of photography to record buildings but it was not until I started illustrating that photography came back into play again. This time as reference for paintings. Initially it was the pre-digital days. Even when digital first reared its head, it was the pursuit of only a few, being so expensive to dive into.
When still using film, I borrowed an old Russian suitcase enlarger. Literally an enlarger which fitted in a small portable suitcase. I could use this to project images onto sheets of paper on the floor and trace around them if required. A far cry from what is available today.
Photography has become an intrinsic part of my work. It is more than that though and the photographs gallery will show both personal work and reference work which then gets used in paintings. When working on the Celtic Tarot, to be able to gather a group of people together and photograph a swath of reference images which I can then work from is invaluable. Of course there is the purity of sitting with a live model but realistically that is not possible. When it comes to painting, the photo is just the base to work from. I give an example of that elsewhere in the site. But there is also great pleasure in taking a photo purely for its own sake and I can often be found out and about with camera in hand.