I was born and grew up in Belfast, leaving school at sixteen largely untouched by 'The Troubles' or the education system. I originally trained as a television repairman and worked in that field for a number of years.
The punk movement of the late 70's had a dramatic effect on my life and outlook. It forced me to re-evaluate a lot of notions I'd grown up with and left me with a pragmatic and questioning nature. I also married for the first time during that era and took up photography as a hobby.
My first wife bought me my first 'serious' camera and I was rapidly introduced to the notion that photography was an artform. A black&white darkroom followed almost immediately and influences like Bill Brandt, Arnold Newman and Ralph Gibson helped me develop my early style.
In the mid-80's Bob Carlos Clarke published 'Dark Summer' and it was a total revelation to me. His joy in photographing women, especially clothed in shiny figure-hugging outfits, was obvious in his images and a welcome relief from previous fetish-related pictures. I am greatly in his debt for showing how the female form could be celebrated.
In 1988 I left work and took up studies for a BA Degree in Photography at Napier Polytechnic of Edinburgh. Up to this point my work had been largely documentary, my first exhibition was on the theme of the retired ship-building community of Belfast. I continued working in that style but used my time at college to expand my approach.
Finding the assignment by assignment structure rather limiting I suggested to my lecturers that I would continue working on my own theme, loosely titled 'Sex&Gender', and fit their briefs into it. Luckily for me they agreed.
That work split into two distinct threads, sexual roleplay and transexualism; the subject of my thesis. No points for guessing which route finally won the day.
Also while at college I met the woman who would be my second wife and, for many years, my muse. Her poetry and spirituality informed and challenged my work as I moulded and honed my skills. After college I moved to Dublin with her and the exhibition, 'ONCE', was heavily dependent on her input.
The fetish scene in Ireland was, at that time, practically non-existent and I received a lot of help and support from the Miss Fantasia clothing shop. 'ONCE' was Ireland's first fetish-related exhibition and I followed it up with 'ONCEagain', an expanded version. Elements from this show were included in the annual show of the Association of Erotic Artists in London and my first exposure at CoffeeCake&Kink in that city's Covent Garden.
CCK then asked me to create an exhibit specifically for their gallery, and that led to the show, 'HOME'. I found the discipline of working on this tighter theme very useful and, now divorced from my second wife, it introduced its own direction.
Along with my involvement in the kink community I have always enjoyed Hollywood-style glamour and 'over-the-top' performances. The perfect vehicle for these interests is Burlesque, currently enjoying a major revival. I work for Dublin's premier burlesque show, Lord KXB's Burlesque & Cabaret Social Club as well as Nimhneach, the main fetish venue.
In my latest works; 'Spotlite' , 'Chiaroscuro' and 'Chromascuro' I've merged these interests into a new style I feel is me finally finding my own path, my own way of speaking photographically.
While all this was going on I also had a career in teaching photography here in Dublin. I was a full-time lecturer in the subject having pretty much left the commercial sector in favour of education and exhibiting. During my tenure I wrote two BA Degree programmes in Photography and Visual Media.
In the past I have been asked what photography means to me. Early in my career I was told it was necessary to live, eat and sleep photography and I still feel that to be true. The medium totally engulfs me and gives me the means to communicate with people all over the world in a visual language that speaks to all. I simply cannot think of anything I’d rather do.
Erotica suggests what porn depicts. This is my personal creed, I do not set out to corrupt or damage my viewers. Rather I prefer to stimulate their own sexual fantasies and generate ideas they can take further.
I am extremely grateful to both my ex-wives for their input and help in the evolution of my photography and want to say a big thank you to all the women who have been involved in its production.