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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

My Story, My London #MakeHistory

London is a place with such well documented history, that when I first moved here I thought it may be hard to create some of my own. Is it possible to carve a niche for yourself in a place with such a developed art world? A city where everything's already been done? For me, the short answer is 'Yes'. Over the past few years I've felt a distinctive shift in the cultural landscape, one where voices are heard & collaboration is king. This side of London has given me so much, making me grateful that my work is valued and that I'm in a place that offers me such nurturing inspiration.

This has been playing on my mind recently when I first spoke to Jim Beam bourbon about their #MakeHistory campaign. It's obvious why history is so important to the brand as they've seen seven generations of family members run the company since its inception in 1795. Looking at a company who've trailblazed in their field for over 200 years makes me wonder how I'm creating my own story. My mind instantly goes to life in the city. How has London, as a capital of creative culture, contributed to my personal history? What locations will I pass by in decades to come and still remember why the streets and buildings have become part of the fabric of my life and work.

Here I've selected some of my favourites - the London that makes me who I am, my history.

Brick Wall Lane: "Sometimes it's best not to stick to the routine"

Down a side street in Hackney in 2007, I shot a portrait of a girl holding flowers on a Sunday from Columbia Road Flower market. The image was a turning point for me as it not only produced great results that I was proud of but it was also the first image to be seen on my blog & purchased for commercial use. The image gave me the confidence to pursue photography as a career and if I hadn't decided to take a walk down an unbeaten track I wouldn't have discovered what I had. Sometimes in life it's best not to stick to the routine.

Tate Modern: "Work hard and stay humble"

People often as me what is it about London that trumps other international cities. For me there's one simple answer - the galleries. Not only do we have some of the best art from around the world here but many of the galleries are also free. TATE Modern is a place that's constantly redefining my image of beauty - opening my eyes to new and exciting work. The grand venue itself help to put my work in context and if I'm ever feeling uncertain or distracted, I know TATE will bring me back to centre. This is more than simply a place of inspiration for me as it'll be forever part of my history a key stockist of my 100 Beards book. It's a reminder to work hard and stay humble.

Kings Cross Station: "In such a big city it's nice to have a reminder that we're all connected"

It seems strange to hold personal value on something as communal as a train station, but when I think about it, much of the London experience is about public transport. My experience of the station most frequently come from my journey to see family in Scotland brining a mixture of excitement and optimism. I always have loved a good cross-country rail journey even as a boy. I particularly love Kings Cross since it's rebuild - it's a juxtapostition, geometric and industrial - filled with steel & concrete beside sandstone and tradition. In such a big city it's nice to have a reminder that we're all connected, no matter how overwhelming the surroundings may appear.

Victoria House "Connecting with new people is what life is all about"

My greatest pleasure in working as a photographer is the ability to meet people. Victoria House will always be a special place for me as it's the place I booked my first ever campaign shoot in the midst of a busy trade show. Every season the building is transformed into a show space for fashion week, a place where I've shot shows and met icons from the industry season after season. It offers something new each time I visit and keeps me aware that making connections is what life is all about - you never know who you're talking to so keep your mind open at all times.

My Studio: "It's a small step forward each day that keeps me on my toes"

There's no more sacred a place to a photographer than his studio. Although I've become know for my location work, particular through street photography, my studio is a place to experiment & grow. It's important to keep a fresh portfolio and my studio gives me the chance to consistently update my creative history. For me, it's a small step forward each day that keeps me on my toes.

Thanks to Jim Beam for sponsoring this photography.