Firstly, I am not a full-time professional photographer, and I'm not currently running this site as a full-on business, although some examples of my work are available for the purchasing of prints and other items. At the moment, I am not seeking any professional commissions, but I am not ruling out the possibility that I could become a full-time photographer in the future. Although I am willing to consider commissions, I am limited to what I can do with the resources I have, and I would probably suggest that anyone with a complex or urgent commission gets in touch with a full-time photographer, as they are probably in a better position to handle this than I am.
My experience with photography goes back nearly four decades; I can't remember exactly when I first took a photograph, but it was probably at some point in the early 1980s. Since then I have worked my way through various cameras, but I would probably say that the first really decent camera I had was the Minolta Dynax 505si which I purchased in 2000, and used it until 2008, when I bought my first digital SLR camera : a Sony A200. This came about as a result of my father purchasing a Canon DSLR and then handing it to me to field-test; after a trip to Hidcote Manor Gardens, I was amazed by the results, and realised that I really had to make the switch from 35mm film myself (ok, I would have done this sooner or later; it was just a matter of "when" not "if" I made the change). In February 2010, I upgraded to a Sony A550 which I used until May 2018, and which has supplied most of this site's content. As of May 2018, I am using a Sony A77 (Photograph numbers P0xxxx were taken with the A200; photograph numbers P5xxxx, P6xxxx or P7xxxx were taken with the A550; P8xxxx were taken with the A77).
I chose to purchase a Sony DSLR because it was a digital "descendant" of my Minolta, and I was working to the assumption that a lot of the equipment I'd amassed with the Minolta would be compatible. However, only my 70-300mm lens eventually made the transition; every thing else had to be replaced, and perhaps if I'd known this, I might have switched to another brand at this point (possibly Nikon; I had considered a Nikon as an alternative to the Minolta in 2000, but after reading various reviews I felt the Minolta was a better choice).
I have found that a Digital SLR camera really suits my style of photography, and sometimes I wish the digital photography revolution had happened 10 years earlier, as I suspect that if it had, I might well be a full-time professional photographer now (if it had happened 20 or 30 years earlier, I might well have taken my life down a completely different path than the one I settled on). I did things with the A200 that I wouldn't have dreamed of doing with a film camera, and I've done things with the A550 that I couldn't have managed with the A200 (I suspect that I will do things with the A77 that I couldn't manage on the A550).
Most of my photography knowledge is self-taught. However, in late 2011 and early 2012, I undertook a couple of informal photography courses at my local college, and these opened my eyes to some elements that I had not previously considered. I would argue that my work drastically improved from that point, and the style I currently use evolved from there.
I have had some work published, a lot of it is in collaboration with a German historian : Hagan Seehase. I have also had worked used by the three principle Evesham local publications : "Evesham Journal", "Evesham Observer" and the "Vale Magazine", although not always credited. I don't know of any other photographer who has managed this (that is not to say that there aren't any). I would like to find my work in a national railway magazine, or in "Dorset Life"; I'm still working on those.
I am also a great believer in post-production digital manipulation. I feel that this gives my photography a more individual touch, and I don't always find myself in situations where I can afford to take up time to set a "perfect" shot; sometimes I find it's a case of dealing with the situation in hand and fixing any issues later on. Yes, if the situation demands it, I will work from the original exposure, but sometimes I've found that a bit work with Paint Shop Pro can turn a "good" photograph into a "great" one. Besides, at the very least, I would argue that anyone who is remotely serious about photography should use a photo editor of some sort, if only to embed information about the photography for future reference. Good documentation of photographs is something I believe in strongly.
I also try to take an interest in whatever it is I'm photographing. As I suspect the organisers of "Wartime in the Vale" would testify, I can be somewhat obsessive about identifying the subjects of my photographs, and I do try to obtain a basic knowledge of what I am photographing, as I want to avoid anyone looking at my photographs and thinking "Great photograph...what is it?". However, I try not to let ignorance of any subject (and anyone who has examined the contents of this site in any great detail will know that there are some areas of knowledge that I am sadly lacking in) prevent me from photographing something; if I did that, this site would probably consist purely of photographs of steam locomotives and Jerry the Chinchilla.
Finally, although I am not a full-time professional, I do try to do as professional a job as possible, especially on those occasions where someone has asked me to take photographs. Quite what my status is can be debated, but if the definition of a professional photographer is someone who has been paid for their work, then I qualify on that count, although the payments I've received so far are few and far between.
Richard J. Kyte