When I was 15, I got a camera for Christmas, mostly because my dad suggested it might be useful for my art GCSE, although my teachers disagreed; for them, art was painting and drawing, not photography. When I turned 16, I was really into this band called The Subways and I was desperate to see them in concert in Manchester, near my home town of Ormskirk, but they were sold out. So I went online to try to find another way in, and actually found the group’s bassist, Charlotte, on My Space (remember that?). I told her photographing the band would help with my art GCSE coursework, so she gave me their manager’s details, I got my press pass and I got into the gig. After that I became obsessed. I’d send 100 emails a day to bands asking to photograph them, and get 99 no’s and perhaps one maybe if I was lucky.
In the meantime, I’d got an A* in my art GCSE and an A* in my art A level, so I went off to college to do a foundation year for an art degree. The teachers there were so different from those at school – they really supported my photography. They’d take us on trips to London to visit museums and exhibitions, and in the evening everyone else would be going out to pubs and clubs, but I’d be off at a gig with my camera. By the time the course had finished, I was already making some money from my photography, so I thought what was the point of studying it at university, ending up with loads of debt and the same portfolio as everyone else? I just carried on working instead.