From the fast paced world of fashion photography, we hear how Roger Brown made it as a wedding photographer.
As I sit here on the morning of yet another birthday, in the quiet of the house before my three boys wake up and shatter the peace and tranquillity, I reflect on the amazing career that I have had so far in the world of photography.
It feels like yesterday that I was in the career’s office at my school, looking at the long list of jobs and contemplating on becoming a Rock Star, and the fact that none of this was relevant to me. Then like a bolt of lightning the word Photographer jumped out at me and nothing was the same again. I was lucky enough to be a student at a new modern comprehensive school in Dorset. A beacon of education in Thatcherite Britain. It also had this rather strange little room called a darkroom that became my own personal domain and also a great place to get a sneaky ciggie in. I can still smell the chemicals now and was hooked when like magic my first black and white print of a river scene at Wareham appeared like magic in the gloom of the red light from the developing tray. In this digital world of everything now, I urge anyone who has never used silver process to feel the excitement of this.
I was never the most academic of students but threw myself wholeheartedly into photography and learnt from a weekly magazine that you collected and put into binders. On my BMX bike I would roam the countryside armed with my Zenit E camera photographing Dorset scenes and local characters in my Village. I still have a box of slides somewhere of all the local shopkeepers including the two older brothers who owned the butchers since the end of World War 1. All gone now but at least they live on in my little box of slides.
I just about managed to get the five O levels to attend Plymouth College of Art and passed the interview as a 16-year-old telling the panel that “I realise it’s not all about fast cars and women” which made them laugh and probably secured my place. It was a great four years and I have made friends that I still have now. I probably learnt more about drinking than photography, but it gave me just about enough knowledge to become an assistant in London to my good friend Stefano Massimo. Who not only was a great photographer and mentor but a man with a passion for the history of art and everything Italian. The one thing that I learnt from him and is the most important in all my images is that it starts with light, without great light an image is nothing. We travelled the world together photographing in glamorous locations in a time that magazines and clients still had loads of budget. Sadly, times have changed, but there are still clients out there who value photography. If you find one hang onto them for dear life.
I eventually started shooting for magazines in my own right and had eight years of doing this until I decided that I wanted to try something new. The pressure eventually gets to you and it was time to decompress. The one constant thing I have learnt in life is that everything changes. I started to photograph friends’ weddings and just loved the fact that I could combine reportage style images with more constructed and creative input. This is something I still strive for now after 15 years of shooting weddings.
I have seen so many changes in that time and if I can share one bit of advice it is to never rest on your laurels but keep pushing and more importantly learn. There are so many great photographers out there and hopefully I can be one of them that shares their experiences and helps you on the road to be an amazing photographer. It’s a career that has not only sustained me financially but aesthetically as well.
I can hear the PlayStation being fired up. Time to get the kids out into the daylight.