I think my first real experience with music came with a cassette my Mum and I would play and sing together before bedtime — a cassette of Chinese bedtime sing-alongs. From there I got my first 7” on plexi-vinyl from a comic book I believe was called Acorn Green Forever – you had to place it on top of ‘real’ vinyl to be able to play it. I was probably around five years old when these happened. I am unsure where it went from there but aged seven, I heard a song called Seven Wonders by a group called Fleetwood Mac. One of my older sisters had the album Tango In The Night on cassette. Someone by the name of Stevie Nicks was the lead vocalist of that song. From that moment I became a huge Fleetwood Mac fan and Stevie stood out the most to me because of that one song. I remember growing up and I would mention Fleetwood Mac to friends and they were like, oh my parents like them but have you heard about The Beatles! I found this strange. They thought I was a weirdo for liking Fleetwood Mac but they loved The Beatles! With pocket money, I slowly delved into the back catalogue of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks and I started to discover more music through radio and through my older siblings.
The first album I bought for myself was Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation. Although my siblings had Control, it was a late night viewing of watching America’s Top 10 and seeing the video for the single Rhythm Nation that caught my attention. I started to see music visually too. I think prior to this my Mum took my brother and I to see Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and another movie back-to-back. Music wasn’t just something for the ears anymore. It became more. Back then I did not realise this. But the birth the music video, namely through Michael and Janet Jackson for me, was equally becoming an art form.
My love for music kept growing but mainly through American coverage and in 1990 I discovered a trio called Wilson Phillips and to this day I am still Hold(ing) On to their music. They are the daughters of a Beach Boy (Carnie and Wendy Wilson) and of a Mama And Papa (Chynna Phillips). Naturally I delved into these 1960s groups. But then 1993 came. En Vogue were on the circuit. From here someone wanted to bring together a British Version of them. In the summer of 1993 I discovered the British Girl Group, Eternal. From discovering Fleetwood Mac to this point, I would flick through the magazines my sisters bought. I don’t remember the magazine but I remember these four girls called Eternal – Easther and Vernie Bennett with Louise Nurding (now Redknapp) and Kelle Bryan – they were dressed in what I thought were the most stylish clothes. I wanted to dress like them. And of course they had the fantastic debut song ‘Stay,’ and it kept growing!
This was the birth of me becoming a ‘fan.’ Eternal was my first live concert in November 1994. I never thought about going to concerts before then even though my sisters had seen the likes of Kylie and Jason and even New Kids On The Block. A school friend and I had bonded over Eternal. We got fourth row to see them at Newcastle City Hall. I took my Mother’s camera. It was a shop branded one that took 110 roll films. I think I took four rolls of 24 exposures. I came back with probably five decent shots.
When I finally got the photos back I showed my friends. They joked, “you should be a photographer!” At this stage I was also obsessed with the theatre. I wanted to be a set designer after seeing the amazing sets of Miss Saigon and Sunset Boulevard in London’s West End. I struggled with putting my ideas on the page but I ploughed through and gained the highest grade on the course but as I applied to college I decided to look into photography further. I went on to study it at college and university level — at university I also studied American Studies – so my photography was very much the technical side of photography as in “here’s the brief – now make the photos and we will critique it later.” It was very much self learning on that course as a Joint Honours student so there is a lot I did not get to learn. What I did take from it though was my love for photography. I loved the click of the shutter, processing the film, watching the image appear through the chemicals and then watching it dry to even appear on someone’s wall. I fell in love with capturing the urban landscape and more so at night. I started going to more gigs and I fell in love with capturing my favourite artists on stage and seeing the sets they had. I started to see light differently. I started to see music on top of hearing and feeling the music. And I guess that’s the basis of my work — feeling what is captured the moment the button is pressed…and it has progressed from these ‘scrapbook’ snapshots as you will see as you go through the Portfolio element of the website.