How did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
It all started in 2000, when my dad bought me my first camera. At the age of 14, I set-off on a round-the-world trip with my family on a sailboat for seven years. It was a life changing experience which gave me my first taste for photography and the exciting possibilities of capturing what I saw around me.
Upon arriving in Europe, I invested in a DSLR, the Nikon D70 - initially because I wanted to get into cinematography - and when I saw the quality of images it could take, it changed my world. Travelling around in those early years, I found myself in France and was given the opportunity to shoot at ‘The Battle of the Year France’ break dance competition in Montpellier. This was very different to what I was used to photographing on the boat, and marked the start of my “action addiction”. From then on, I was hooked.
What drives you as a photographer?
Capturing the perfect moment and being part of the action. After growing up on a boat, life was all about getting out there, exploring the world and documenting everything we encountered along the way. I want to inspire people through my photography to do something different – try a new sport, get out in nature, see more of the world.
I love that photography is a medium which people connect with so easily. I’m lucky that it gives me a ‘special pass’ to do things which I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do, and I enjoy sharing what others wouldn’t normally see or look for through my work.
Do you have a favourite photograph?
As part of a personal project, I spent over a month in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver; an area with a significant drug and homeless problem. While I was there, I got to know the people living on the streets and their life stories. I took around 165 portraits, but this photo of a man named George and his pigeon is one of my favourites. I wanted to really see the people, not define them by their situation, and I feel this image does just that.
It’s a project close to my heart because my dad would take me to Vancouver as a child and we’d eat in China Town opposite the Carnegie Community Centre – a beautiful building at the epicentre of the Downtown Eastside. When I found myself unexpectedly in Vancouver later in life with a camera, I knew I had to do this project. I found it extremely moving getting to know these people and learning about their lives and the places they came from.
How long have you used Nikon products for/ what is your favourite Nikon gear and why?
I’ve been using Nikon products since picking up my first DSLR, the D70, in 2004. The brand has been a huge part of my career ever since!
One of my favourite cameras is the Nikon D810 because it offers amazing resolution and dynamic range, which equals great image quality. When I do capture the perfect moment, I want it to be with the highest quality possible.
The Nikon D5 is another camera I know I can rely on, namely due to its great ergonomics. When you’re shooting all day and have the camera in your hands for 10 hours, you need something that’s comfortable and durable. Speed and high ISO are also big factors with this camera. With so much of my work action-based and fast-paced, I need to be able to capture moments as they happen, because there are no second chances.
And finally, the Nikon D500 is perfect for all my adventure work. Its lightweight body with professional features means that, whether I’m climbing a 900m cliff or in the middle of the desert, it won’t weigh me down.
In terms of lenses, it’s all about the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED for me – amazing sharpness and a great zoom. In fact, I find I can cover a whole project with this lens. I also love the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II for its flexibility and the AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR as a lightweight wide-angled zoom. In addition, the AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED prime lens is great because of its fast 1.4 aperture and stunning quality, at one of my favourite focal lengths.
What products will you be using most in the coming months?
I’m looking forward to working on more video-based projects so I plan to use the 4k video capabilities of the D500 and D5 more. I’ve tested them a few times and have been really impressed. I’m also looking forward to getting my hands on the KeyMission 360 and 170, as other tools to getting different perspectives. I did some very early product testing with the KeyMission 360 and I loved it.
How do you feel about your new role as a Nikon European Ambassador?
Thrilled! It’s a great honour to collaborate with and be recognised by a company which has been part of my career since the beginning. Alongside being able to work on a Special Project which is close to my heart, I’m also looking forward to sharing my knowledge and experience with other photographers.
What professional challenges have you faced?
No photography project is without its challenges, especially when you’re an action / adventure photographer and a keen athlete. But facing these challenges and finding solutions is all part of the process, and the fun.
For me, weather can be a huge issue, especially on commercial shoots when you’re working on a tight schedule and have limited time with athletes or clients. On the flipside, for adventure photography I’ve found that when the weather’s rough and you don’t want to get your camera out, that’s often when you get the best shots. When the going gets tough and the weather isn’t optimal, just power through and capture the best images possible (helped, of course, by a robust camera).
Logistics can also prove tricky. When you’re trying to access areas which have never been accessed before, or bringing in large crews and lots of equipment, you have to put a lot of time into planning to make sure that nothing goes wrong and you have all the kit you need.
What is your proudest achievement?
Becoming a Nikon ambassador is a huge achievement for me of which I’m immensely proud. My photography projects in Vancouver and shooting bouldering expeditions in the Himalaya’s are also special memories.