You are currently viewing Find what makes your heart sing: How I became a photographer
Zoomflash image from Shunt Vaults on it's closing night

Find what makes your heart sing: How I became a photographer

Mick McCarthy the former Republic of Ireland footballer was once reprimanded by a referee after scything down an opponent long after the ball had gone

“Mick you were terribly late!” the ref said as he reached inside his pocket for a yellow card to book the centre half.

As Mick rose to his feet he turned to the ref and responded in his gruff Yorkshire accent

“Aye ….I was that ref …….but I got there as quick as I could.”

And so it was with myself and photography !

I cannot remember ever taking a single picture with a camera until I was in a rehab at someone’s graduation event (I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a residential rehab for drugs and alcohol recovery for 6 months) when someone handed me a point and shoot camera and told me to take a pic of the leaving group. (How hard could it be ?)

It was not a work of art. …….by the time the lens stopped zooming in and out and the camera actually took the picture I think the sun had gone behind the clouds, 2 people had looked away and the dog had run off. I wasn’t that impressed & like any self respecting technophobe I immediately blamed the camera.

The problem, as far as I could surmise with my vast experience in this artistic field, seemed to be the delay in taking the picture after I had pressed the button. Armed with the facts as to what the problem was, I sought out those with just a bit more knowledge in this area as to how I could find a machine with no time delay & thus find the solution. I was politely informed to go and purchase a DSLR (whatever the hell that was) This was mid-2009 & I was sober & substance free for 5 months.

This was my second attempt at sobriety and this time I was prepared to accept all and any help that was offered. My first attempt 18 months earlier had not been a huge success but it had led me into the offices of a gentleman called Chris Finch at Southwark Works. His job was getting people who were not working for whatever reason back into employment. I used to go see hime from time to time and we would chat and I would go through endless psychometric & aptitude tests, some of which I would answer honestly …….& others out of humour and wishful thinking!

He also suggested I go do some voluntary work at a place called Shunt Vaults ( A eclectic amalgam of Theatre Company/Night Club/General hub of Creative Anarchy) under the arches in London Bridge. This was my introduction to the “World of the Arts” It was awkardly wonderful.



During the chats with Chris Finch for some unknown reason he seemed to be guiding me towards the creative path whilst I, in my infinite wisdom, felt that I should probably head in the care/support/counselling direction. He would listen patiently to me as I muttered on about how I felt I might be good at this old listening lark & would then say to me in a kind and gentle fashion that I shouldn’t rule out something creative ! It would appear that CF could see certain things in me that I could not see in myself ……..or maybe my creative answering (& by creative I mean not strictly honest) of aptitude tests was leading me there ?

In the centre of the Shunt Subterranean Universe was rather a large bar ……..the kind of bar that serves alcoholic beverages. It wasn’t the place I started drinking again nor as far as I can work out the reason why either but I think in some small recess of my mind I wanted to believe I could drink sociably and if I could sort out the usual suspects (flat, job, girlfriend, social life etc) then all would be well.

Art Installation at Shunt Vaults London Bridge
zoomflash photography image of shunt vaults london bridge
Zoomflash image from Shunt Vaults on it's closing night


I am a portrait photographer from London UK, who takes professional portrait & headshots of people for business and personal use. I am also a London event photographer covering all types of events from small private gatherings to office work parties, large festivals, and conferences.