Early Inspiration

Neither my mother nor my father were particularly “into” photography. My mother was certainly creative, but in other ways. So my earliest photographic inspiration was through a young French couple, Nick & Gabrielle, who rented a room in our house when we were children.

To us kids they were exciting, young, cosmopolitan and fun to be with. For our parents they were live-in babysitters, happy to take us off their hands for the day. And Nick was never without his camera. To this day my favourite photos of our childhood are the 60 or so black and white stills that Nick took of us during their stay.

Me with my two sisters, Sarah & Jo – Dulwich Park, London – 1972

Probably taken over only 3 or 4 separate sessions during the periods that they stayed with us, these images are more evocative to me of that time, almost 45 years ago, then any others, and these pictures, pretty much the only ones taken of us with a “decent” camera, very much became my first inspiration.

Sadly, as with many young love affairs, Nick & Gabrielle parted. We kept in touch with Gabrielle, in fact she was at my wedding 28 years later, but none of us ever saw Nick again. The title picture is I believe the only shot I have of him. But unknowingly he had sowed a seed and, timeless, simple, elegant and beautiful as they are, when I look at them now I can also see exactly what Nick was trying to achieve, what his thought processes were in terms of framing, aperture and exposure, and it resonates even more so as I return to using film again.

So I may have been a slow learner, but eventually I got there, with my own beautiful girls to inspire me further.

So thanks Nick. Wherever you may be.

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