Before I started
As a kid, I carried a camera everywhere with me, an old compact covered in stickers. I should have guessed then that photography was going to play a huge part in my life but it took a few years before the penny actually dropped. That happened while living in Germany. I was fresh out of college, working in an Irish pub and trying to learn German. In my spare time I travelled, bringing with me an old film SLR camera. While my fellow students were stepping onto the first rung of their career ladder in the world of marketing, I was dreaming of working in photography. The seed was sown.
The photography bug truly kicked in when I returned home to Ireland. I started working in a local photo lab and all my time off was spent exploring the back roads of Ireland. In 2006, I decided to take time out and travel. I started out in South America before heading to Australia, where I bought my first digital camera. No more squeezing film rolls into my hand luggage and hoping for the best, as the bag passed through the airport x-ray machines. In New Zealand, I drove over 12,000 kms in 6 weeks, exploring every road and capturing every beautiful landscape. Over the next 3 months, I followed my own trail around South East Asia, the last days of which were spent exploring the mountain highlands of north Vietnam by motorbike with a local guide, always with my camera in tow.
The first move
I clung to the security of an office job and worked in photography on the side. I fed my travel cravings with random wanders around Europe, all the time adding to my ever-growing collection of images. I finally bit the bullet and submitted a portfolio of images to the Lonely Planet and was accepted as a contributing photographer. This opened the door to other opportunities and so I took a chance and decided to go fully professional. I was nervous at first but the move forward has been worth it. Working for yourself is one of the hardest ways to make a living but it can be so rewarding. Once you develop a consistent routine, remain motivated and focus on the future at all times. I won’t lie, it can be incredibly stressful at times, worrying about paying the bills. People think that being a professional photographer is ultimate dream job, however, you are actually taking on several roles. Maintaining consistency across the board is the key to success. Not only are you a photographer, you are responsible for all admin, sales, marketing, advertising, accounting, digital content and the list goes on. You are essentially a business person first and a photographer second. And you might not always be asked to photograph the type of images you enjoy taking. However, those few annoyances aside, I feel very lucky to work, doing something I love.
Today, I am happy to say that my work has appeared in publications around the world and my images hang on walls in many a country. I run photography workshops and photo tours here in Ireland, where I am lucky to meet all kinds of wonderful people from around the world, with the same passion for photography. I provide tourism imagery for commercial assignments. And I still travel. However, I am at my happiest chasing the light across the beautiful landscapes on the west coast of Ireland.