Although born in 1946 in London of Irish parents the first eleven years of my life were spent in Dublin, Ireland. We were a poor family. However I had a happy contented childhood there.
In '57, because on the economic situation, we moved to Manchester, England.
Schools in Manchester were okay and I got pretty good grades until, at the age of 15, I discovered Sex & Drink & Rock'n'Roll (the drugs came later!). At 16 I left with few qualifications.
For a few years I did a few jobs just to get by. But they were carefree days, carefree nights too! Around ‘67, with a couple of pals, we hatched the idea of doing a big road trip, around the coast of Africa perhaps?
I worked for an Italian family selling ice cream, driving a van around some of the roughest areas of the city, I managed to save over £1,000 which was a fair amount of money back then and more than enough to finance the trip. However on the advice of the Foreign Office, we decided on a change of plan. So we headed east with the aim of making it to Australia. We drove to Calcutta, but as it was impossible to enter Burma, we flew to Thailand. Then traveled down through Malaysia and into Singapore. From there we got a ship to Jakarta and traveled through the archipelago, finally arriving in East Timor.
Amazingly only one of us owned a camera. I just loved the feel of it and looking through the view finger I experienced a whole new world. It became a passion. I used the camera at every opportunity.
In late ‘69 I arrived alone in Darwin with $5 in my pocket. I lived on a crab infested beach for a couple of weeks. But life got better (as it invariably does for the young). I worked in the outback and saved a good deal of money in Australia. In ‘71 found myself in Tokyo. I had a ball there, and it was there that I got my first genuine camera, a Nikromat. I actually took a few pretty good images during my time there. However, at the request the Japanese immigration, I had to leave the country in '72.
I returned to Manchester where, apart from some travel to Scandinavia, Spain and Morocco, Again lived the carefree life, although I was making contacts and always taking photographs.
In ‘75, I got a job as a photographer on a cruise ship sailing out of LA and San Francisco. It was invaluable experience. Learning to frame, focus and shoot in seconds – day after day.
Back in England in ‘76 I worked as the local crew at various large music venues, helping get the bands get in, set ‘em up and get 'em out, it was enjoyable work. I had the opportunity to photograph the artists. During this time I sold a few images to the Melody Maker and the New Musical Express.
This was all well and good and although I knew I could produce good images I had no idea as to where it was going. I needed direction and guidance.
In ‘79, I got accepted, at the age of 33, onto a 2 year Documentary Photography course. It was instigated and run by David Hurn, a Magnum photographer. He based the course in Newport, South Wales. Newport is very much a working class city, a great place to photograph people. Photographing people in natural surroundings has always been my subject of choice. I lived in Cardiff, a short train ride to Newport. I loved both cities and the people of South Wales. The area where I lived was once known as Tiger Bay, a dockland area. It had such a rich cultural mix of of warm, welcoming people.
As soon as I started the course I realised that even having a good "eye" wasn’t enough. A lot of hard work was still required. Learning to be a photographer is somewhat like learning to play a musical instrument. Even though one may have natural ability, practice is still required on a daily basis.
So in ‘81, there I was, a so-called qualified photographer. But I still needed get paid work. In early ‘82 I went down to London with my portfolio. I saw 28 picture editors in 3 days. That trip, one way and another, got me work over the next 20 years.
I worked as a freelance for numerous national newspapers (the Observer, the Independent, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph) and various specialist magazines including New Society, Nursing Times, the Field and Doctor Magazine. Oh, my favorite title, Shoe and Leather News! Too many to remember actually. Later on, my best paid work was from North West Water and other utility companies. I also did a lot of work for Educational establishments, Universities and Colleges. For them I did prospectives, publicity shots, that kind of thing. I also undertook a fair amount of well paid work for Manchester City Council, usually at receptions for delegates visiting the city.
By 2007 work was drying up, the photography business had changed and there were eager young kids on the block who were willing to work at much cheaper rates. I needed a change. So in 2008 I sold my house in Manchester and moved to Chiang Mai,Thailand. Which is where I am today.
In the galleries you can view a selection of my life's work as a photographer.
I’m one of the lucky few and feel so fortunate to have made a living from doing something that I loved.
Website conceived and designed by Raed and Amy Jacobs