Self-taught, Scottish photographer. Prowls around between dusk and dawn, pursuing a dramatic edge. Drawn to seascapes, cityscapes and landscapes – winter preferred – with occasional forays into sports, still life, portraiture and a growing fascination with knackered looking objects and buildings.
I’m from Glasgow, but I live in Nottingham in the English midlands – about as far from the coast as you can be in the UK – so I’m constantly looking for dramatic locations, like the Derbyshire Peak District, glorious Isle of Skye or the wild Basque coastline, which has become my ‘home from home’ – spiritually and photographically.
I want my images to disrupt the viewer in some way, which means pushing myself and my kit as far as I’ll dare – a foot deeper in a ferocious sea, a metre higher on a craggy mountainside or an inch closer to the edge of a skyscraper. There are so many great photographers, when you are competing, it can often be that extra edge that elevates your image into a ‘win-zone’ and I find that challenge incredibly motivating.
I guess being a land-locked ‘seascaper’ has forced me to look harder to identify the drama in my own local environment, around Nottinghamshire. One of my more successful experiments was in trying to bring landscape techniques, such as narrow aperture grad filtering to the tiny world of flowers and bugs… Add in a blast of flash from an SB900 and you have a range of dramatic flowerscapes which have probably been the source of most attention on my portfolio over the past couple of years.
This year, I’ve been lucky enough to see five of my landscapes – four of them dramatic flowerscapes - shortlisted for the final of the UK Landscape Photographer of the Year contest, so I have my fingers crossed until October, when the results will be announced.
I have a huge affection for Bilbao and the coast around Euskadi which you will see, unashamedly, take a disproportionate share of my portfolio. My wife, Jaione – the Axpe in WilsonAxpe - is a local. We met 17 years and two wonderful children ago - Andrew (10) and Alba (7). Over that time I’ve seen the wonderful city transform to become a vibrant European destination. I love shooting Bilbao and the Guggenheim - I even proposed to Jaione there. I know it has become a photographic cliché, but I can think of few other buildings that respond so well, so dramatically, to changes in the light and weather, that no matter when I visit, I always feel I will come away with something different.
I’m lucky that my career allows me to travel fairly extensively, Indeed, some of my most popular images – from Chicago, New York, Colorado, Toronto or Prague – are the by-product of business trips, struggling through customs with a bulky Manfrotto tripod and squeezing every minute of shooting opportunity out of challenging meeting schedules. My most popular image to date – Tim Burton’s New York – which has more than half a million hits on 500px - was shot after a tough New York Analysts conference, so finding an empty, snow-filled Bryant Park at midnight was the perfect post-meeting recovery!
I have made great friends through my love of photography and a sharing a passion for dramatic locations with like-minded explorers like Ian Pinn, Chris Newham, Padraig McKenna and Rob de Voogd. So much about our trips is about trying to nail those ‘winning’ images that will attain competition or exhibition standard but, more than anything, the shoots I share with these guys are great times – some of the very best – and you can’t ever really capture that sense of adventure and comradeship on film.
Of course, I don’t actually shoot film…. My weapon of choice (at least until I can afford a D4!) is a full-frame Nikon D700, always in Raw, and I use Lightroom 4 for processing. My Nikon 14-24mm is pretty much ‘welded’ to the front of my camera - apart from when I’m shooting sports (Nikon 70-200 and Sigma 300mm) & portraits (Nikon 50mm) – and I use a variety of Lee filters. The next piece of gear on the endless ‘wish list’ is an Aquatica underwater housing for the D700 – wouldn’t it be great to capture what the Bay of Biscay looks like from beneath the waves!
So, that’s me, photographically speaking…. I hope you enjoy my work and experience even a fraction of the pleasure from my images that I get from shooting them. I’m inspired daily by the great work I see on Flickr and 500px and it just pushes me to want to get better and go further…. Here’s to the next great trip wherever that may be.
May the light be with you!