Based near the coast on the borders of Kent & Sussex I was lucky enough to grow up in a rural setting and my playground was the open countryside.
One of the things I liked best was being close to the coast, this is where I got hooked on sailing. More specifically, windsurfing! For years I was found either on the local lake or on the sea trying to perfect some move.
I was never deterred from the weather even if it was the middle of winter you’d find me on the water somewhere. Over time things moved on and I had an invitation to try out kite surfing form a friend who needed a guinea pig in order for him to gain his instructor certificate. I was game!
From this moment I was turned to the dark side and have traveled to many remote places in order to fulfill my passion. Now though, I stick mainly with the south east coast which is still a great playground.
Whilst all this was going on I had gained many certificates within the sailing industry. One being my Yacht Masters certificate which was a grueling 4 month course in Cowes covering over 2500 sea miles and various aspects of classroom based learning.
This provided many gateways for me to explore the world and whilst all this was going on I would be taking snaps of all the wonderful adventures along the way.
Turns out, I was quite a good photographer according to many people. So alongside my travels and adventures I would be taking photos for leisure whilst unwittingly becoming a bit of a camera nerd.
My Introduction to photography.
My father was an estate agent for his working life and off-season I would sometimes go and work for him. One of my favorite things was to photograph the houses he would take on and I loved this. It was really creative and loved seeing the results.
It was a very different ball game back then. For a start, digital wasn’t even available so it was the trusty 35mm camera, this came with its challenges. I wasn’t a pro and although I’d done a GCSE in photography I really had to learn from experience.
Photography was such a different ball game compared to today’s fast paced digital world. Remember when you had to go and have your film developed and wait days for it to be returned! I remember getting excited when they started putting sticky strips on the back of photos, sad really but it made my life easier when putting brochures together. Also, no internet and no Googling something in an instant. I actually had to go to a library to learn about new techniques!
However, as I gained experience I gained allot of interest and what was a hobby soon became a passion. I would say I was an amateur photographer for a long time but talking from experience there are a lot of great amateur photographers out there who really know their stuff.
I’m not sure I like the word amateur. Yes, this is noticeable in allot of ways but with the world of the web, peoples knowledge of certain niches could easily make them very knowledgeable and possibly exceed a professionals skills in some respects. I’m ranting!
Rather than sticking with my passion as a sailor I reluctantly moved on. Perhaps I should have gone straight into photography but for one reason and another I didn’t.
I had an unfortunate situation where a close friend from school had killed himself in a motorbike incident. It was another catalyst and it made me realize I was endlessly away and I wanted to be closer to family & friends and not lose touch with the people I care about.
There was an opportunity to move to London where I entered the world of estate agency. I spent many years thinking that if I’m honest and hard working it would make a difference but the battle regrettably was too much. I still have a keen interest in property so perhaps a more suitable role might present themselves one day. Needless to say and after 15 years it got the better of me and started to explore a new avenue. I loved my sailing and I love photography and I love property. Sailing wasn’t in the equation but photography was and with my experience in property and my contacts I set up Property Visual. It flew! For years I was belting around taking interior photographs and it was great fun and learnt so much along the way.
Where did it take me
Once I had carved a name for myself other projects started to appear. One thing London is excellent for is the way you can network and the enthusiasm people have. Such an impersonal place but at the same time you can find many people willing to lend a hand.
Next thing I know I’m photographing products, paintings, people, landmarks, commercial industries and more. It was a huge learning curve and one I am very grateful. It has enabled me to tap into other sectors that produced a sister company called James Baily Photography.
Here I offer portrait and wedding photography which is excellent fun and with a completely different dynamic. Weddings are fast and fun and everyone’s out, looking great and enjoying them selves. You’d struggle to get a bad photo.
I run projects on the side such as Art Reproduction Photography, Products and even picture framing. It opens up new and creative flows where I produce artwork for my own satisfaction and simply keep things alive.
Where am I now.
Since the start of changing my career into the photography world I have encountered so many interesting people and been involved in some amazing projects and events.
I have a family and two gorgeous boys, live in the country (near the coast!) and although I have to travel more for my work, it doesn’t deter me from wanting to create images that please people.
I’m still sailing but for pleasure and I still kite surf – best of both worlds!
Thanks for reading and hope you didn’t nod off.