My friends tell me I have led an incredibly interesting life and that the stories I tell to audiences are fascinating and inspirational. I am humbled by the compliments but feel somewhat distant from the descriptions as this life I have led is the only one I know. There was little choice involved in the development of my stories, they just happened around me and to me and so to be asked to recount them to interested audiences never ceases to surprise me.
You will read early in this book why I lack the skills necessary to write. You may even wonder how someone like me has been able to produce a book, stay employed and sustain relationships. None of these have come easy and I do rant at the computer, myself and the wall with frequency and more so at my inability to string a coherent sentence together at times.
On paper, my CV looks fairly impressive for a Bradford boy who ran away from home and school at 14. A self-taught photographer, my work over the past thirty years has been celebrated in publications and exhibitions around the world and I still work as a freelance photographer producing imagery for a diverse range of subjects. Back in the 80’s I was instrumental in reproducing a new collection of imagery for the world’s oldest postcard company Bamforth and Co in Holmfirth in the UK which served as an introduction to professional practice. This work led on to commissions for magazines, covering the English aristocracy, the world’s greatest photographers and hundreds of stories that depicted the diverse lifestyle of UK cultures. In 1998 I travelled to Thailand to cover the story of paedophiles that were actively operating in Bangkok and whilst covering the story met and documented the work of Krau Prateep ‘The Rescuers’ shot in the illegal slum area in the docklands of the city.
Despite failing to secure anything much in the way of a traditional education, I started teaching in 1999 initially as a visiting lecturer and was encouraged to head the development of the recently established photography area.
Years of working trades taught me the entrepreneurial skills which were called upon in 2009 whilst visiting South Korea. I identified opportunities for collaboration at key leading South Korean Universities, Daewon University, Seokyeoung University, Hanyang Women’s College and Ansan College of Technology Korea. Travelling frequently and delivering lectures in new digital capture technology prepared me for the future challenges in preparing students to fully understand the opportunities of working in a global arena.
In 2008 I took my first trip to India as part of a team exploring opportunities to collaborate with Indian Institutions through the United Kingdom India educational research initiative (UKIERI). Meeting with Whistling Woods International in Mumbai led on to producing an award winning Animation Titled Music of Life, which was the result of a collaboration of Indian and Bradford students, to, developing and opening the Bradford –WWI Film School.
This was an ambitious initiative and in its first year I witnessed the most extraordinary response from both the Industry and academic Institutions
After my retirement from education I am continuing to follow my passion as a photographer and educator and whilst I am the first to admit that my role as Director of the Film School and as an educator was an incredibly important chapter in my professional life, I still find most satisfaction in inspiring people young and old. When you read this book, you will find a critical reflection of my personal journey, as a young boy living on the streets in the UK to fulfilling many of my own ambitions. My successes and failures are the sum of my life experiences laid out before you in “The Long Road Home”.