It’s a bit of a cliché but my interest in photography started at a young age. I’d spend hours snapping away on my little Praktica camera. It was one of those slimline cameras that took 110 film cartridges. Taking pictures of this and that, then taking them to ‘Click’ on Stroud High Street and waiting a week for the results was all part of the experience. Fast forward to my teenage years and a trip to Australia to visit family prompted me to save up and buy my first digital camera. Given that those of us visiting consisted of me and my parents along with my sister and her boyfriend, I was a bit of a third wheel when it came to romantic walks along the beaches! And so, during our time in Australia, I’d often go off exploring with my camera.
Like many people, upon leaving school I had a few dead-end jobs in restaurants and supermarkets all the while I was still taking photographs in my spare time. Having studied mathematics and physics at A-Level I had no particular art-based qualifications however, I managed to secure a place to study for professional photography degree at the University of Westminster based on my portfolio alone. With most of my time spent taking pictures and developing endless rolls of film in the darkroom and perhaps a little too much time at The Royal Exchange free house in W2, those few years in London really opened my eyes to what was possible in the world of photography.
Back in Gloucestershire, I began my photographic career by volunteering my spare time for local events, gigs and commissioned portraiture. These experiences along with a relatively diverse portfolio enabled me to secure my first professional role in the field as a staff photographer with Newsquest Media at the Stroud News & Journal in September 2010. I spent three years with Newsquest covering an array of different news stories, events and sporting fixtures on a daily basis. It turned out to be a steep learning curve for a straight-out-of-college 'know-it-all' and I quickly realised why many of the photographers working for other newspapers on the circuit were a little older than me – they had experience! Once I’d settled into it, however, I realised that working as the sole photographer on a weekly title was a fantastic career from a creative point of view as no two days were the same. It meant that not only did things not get boring but I was constantly faced with new challenges which kept my photography fresh. It was a fantastic start to my career in photography and I truly feel that regional newspapers are still extremely important to the local community and that they should be supported as much as possible.
In August 2013 I made the move to a well-established photographic agency where I honed my skills covering events, PR, news stories and premiership rugby on an international scale. Another steep learning curve meant taking everything I’d learnt so far and applying it to much more high-profile scenarios. Celebrity interviews, Royal visits, promotional shoots for global brands, working for daily newspapers and premiership sporting fixtures most weekends. Tough work with very long days and lots of driving, all of which would be offset by the fact I was being paid to photograph some very interesting people and exclusive events.
In the summer of 2017, I was made aware of an unused studio space near my home and after much deliberation, I took the plunge and set up my own business, Stand Out Studio Ltd. I set up SOS to offer high-quality photographic services to commercial clients across the country in areas such as editorial, fashion, product, e-commerce, portraiture and PR. The business took off well and as with any new business venture after the plateau and periods of uncertainty things were looking positive. As for many small businesses the Coronavirus outbreak in March 2020 caused huge problems for photographers. Faced with months of cancellations, little to no cash flow and as a sole director with little on offer from the Government at the time, I took the difficult decision to close the studio and rethink my direction.
Out of the ashes came Hewlett Photography & Design. During the lockdown with plenty of free time, I rebranded the business. With Government guidelines advising people to work from home, working as a photographer whose entire career is based on visiting people, it was quite a challenge to adapt. Having had some experience with design work in the past, I found myself designing several websites as well as taking on some graphic design work for businesses across the globe. During this time I also co-founded a new website for the local area – Stroud Times. Using time during lockdown I designed and built the website and since the launch in March 2021, I continue to work on improving the design and functionality while also shooting images for news stories and features. When the strictest lockdown conditions were lifted, I was able to resume life as a photographer. Today, I operate much as I did before, splitting my time equally between location, studio and design assignments for clients across the country.