Rob Stephen

Rob Stephen

I took my first photograph in 1967 with an Agfa Clack, when I was 14. It was a black and white image of the sky and I’ve given it the rather imaginative title of Number 001.

I didn’t take any more till I was about 22 and attending an indifferent design course at NEWI in Wrexham that prepared me only for unemployment.

Since then I’ve spent 40 years in Manchester, London and Wales working as a graphic designer/art director, but I’ve been freelance since 1992 after getting the sack for being too opinionated. About 6 months before that, I’d started using a computer instead of magic markers – and in the olden days, Photoshop 2.5 didn’t have any layers.

I’ve art directed lots of photographic shoots and I sometimes wish I’d paid more attention to what the photographers were doing, but I was put off by all the darkroom stuff. I didn’t really want to be a professional photographer anyway and in 2006 I started a part-time degree in Fine Art and graduated in 2012 with first class honours.

In my day job, the computer is a welcome progression from the often tedious manual processes of the past and I probably prefer digital photography because I’ve been working digitally for so long. I’m more interested in chance occurrences than photographing preconceived subjects. I rarely use a tripod but I nearly always carry a camera in case I see something interesting. I believe that scanning, faxing, photocopying or any other type of image making/transmitting process are valid methods of recording and creating imagery and I don’t make any distinction between design, art and photography.

I grew up in the country, but I’m much more interested in the urban environment and human activity than I am in the rural landscape, so as yet I haven’t photographed any trees in Llanberis, lighthouses on Anglesey or lakes in Snowdonia. There’s nothing wrong with doing those things, but there are enough people doing that already … and doing a far better job than I could anyway.