I set myself up in business at the age of 18, taking natural history images and doing bar work part-time to supplement my income. I was lucky because I was still living at home, so I didn't have a mortgage or big bills to worry about. I started off supplying pictures and articles for photography magazines, doing calendars and postcards, all the usual stuff.
I was 21 when I decided to turn fully professional. I was working with film in those days, and stock images were far more lucrative than they are today. I got a contract with the RSPCA's photo library, and I had one image sell twice for a total of £7,500. Although this was obviously an exception, it was at this the point when I thought, wow, this is going to be great!. I didn't have a meticulous business plan, but one thing just led to another and my attitude has always been, 'I'm going to do this – so let's make it work!
When you're self-employed it often comes down to sheer determination and working very hard. It's a tough business. I'm only 34, but things have already changed so much. It must be even harder now than when I started – the stock-image industry has all but collapsed, for one thing – but if you can get your foot in the door, if you can look after your clients and hit your deadlines and do what you've been asked to do, then you can build up a relationship with those clients and they'll look after you.