Who Am I?

This is absolutely NOT an 'Artists Statement' by the way, as I hate those and purposefully avoid reading them whenever I can.

That's me on the right of the image in the paper clipping, receiving my Photographer of the Year award way back in 2009, from the Penistone Camera Club Club chairman Paul Cartwright and where my dad (who isn't in the shot and who sadly passed away in 2019), also received several prizes for his work. Way to go dad!!!

So for anyone who is interested, here is a quick potted history of who I am and how I came to write, what I am now being told by many of my satisfied customers, has quickly become "The Definitive Photographers Guide to the Isle of Skye and the North West of Scotland."

I left school at 15, but when I say I left, I think a more accurate description of what happened to me at that tender age, would be to say I was kicked out for my attitude and my complete lack of interest in education, or what any of the teachers had to say to me. I then got a job in the local Steel works and where I was immediately put to work on 12 hour shifts and 7 days a week and which when I look back now, must have been illegal even in those days. I mean can you imagine the youngsters of today putting up with that? Nope me neither.

I stuck this out until I was in my late 20's, before hearing about this new fangled thing called 'Computing' being discussed on the TV way back in the early 80's. My wife Ann, who has always been my rock, said to me that I had a very logical brain and how I was totally wasting it, so why the hell didn't I start using it and make something more of myself. So I went back to school and I do mean that quite literally, because I soon found myself sat in the middle of a classroom full of giggling 15 year old kids at the local school, learning 'O' Level maths and which happily I passed. This then allowed me to get into a local secondary college to take a newly created City and Guilds in I.T. (I.T. meaning Information Technology) and which I also passed. I then managed to get onto a 3 year HND course in Computational Sciences at the local Polytechnic College and which I took to like a duck to water. In fact so much so, that when I graduated, I was offered a job at the college as a technician and given the task of setting up their interdepartmental network systems and servers, as well as teaching degree level students, lecturers and even professors, how to use a computer. Then Adobe brought out its first commercially available version of Photoshop, around the same time that Microsoft came out with its first semi stable version of Windows 3.0 and Word. So I began the task of teaching these applications to all the staff and students and where I quickly realised the power of Photoshop and its ability work with digital files - this was way before digital cameras had become available by the way and so it was still more about Scanning images and Desktop Publishing etc., but I could see what was coming.

Now even though up until that point, I had only been into photography in a very small way, with the help of my dad and the 35mm Canon he gave me in my youth, I hadn't really got the bug, because the pictures I would often get back from the developers, were always so hit and miss in both colour and quality, so it was fun but not very addictive. Then I bought a newly released 2mp Fujifilm bridge camera, with a 6x optical zoom and BOOM, I was hooked.

I then went on to take my Masters Degree in computing as well as a second degree in teaching, to make my teaching roll official and where I then went on to work at a very large prestigious university, as I also started to teach Photography and digital imaging at a local college in the evenings.

So there I was with a very early digital camera, but already with many years of experience using Photoshop at the very highest level. So when digital photography did arrive fully, I wasn't a film photographer burdened by having to convert all of my film knowledge into digital, I was a digital imaging expert who had been waiting for digital cameras to be invented. Then Canon brought out the first affordable Full Frame digital camera, which I immediately bought and was still using when I joined the Penistone Camera Club and where I then went on to win nearly all of their awards for several years in a row and generally hog the limelight a little too much, as well as doing very well in several International photography competitions. I was then offered a commission by one of the sponsors of that international photography competition, which would take me and my wife as my assistant, all over the world working as a commercial landscape photographer and which after a couple of assignments, I decided to give up (much to the disappointment of the missus), because I had become so obsessed with landscape photography by that time and the beauty of what I could see all around me, that sticking something like a huge 8 berth camper van in front of it and then trying to shoot around it but still include the scenery, got very boring very quickly. So I turned down the next set of assignments to America, Canada and Australia to do the same type if work. Now I bet you are sat there thinking 'I wish I had been offered that job', well what it entailed was driving thousands of miles in the least time possible to every well known beauty spot and then getting up several hours before everyone else, so I could choose where I would like to setup the campervan, to shoot it against the most jaw dropping backdrop. But before I could do this and to fully satisfy my sponsors, we had to get out a large step ladder, a mop and bucket, cleaning cloths and Brillo Pads (wire wool squares with soap in the them) and try to scrub off all the mud and the road dirt and the tarmac spots etc., that had stuck all around and on top of a huge 8 berth campervan and try to make it look like it had just rolled out of the showroom. And we had to do this before each individual shot at every location, even if they were only a few miles apart or it was raining and which ended up taking up so much of our time, that we never got to see or photograph anything that didn't have a campervan stuck in the middle of it.

I then took a job with the Blind Veterans Society UK, where I was tasked with teaching military personnel with severe head injuries, how to use a computer without any usable vision and where I setup the first camera club for blind veterans - yes you can still do photography even if you are blind, although it is obviously not an easy thing to do, but it can be done and the enjoyment that the people who I taught and took out on field trips got out if it, certainly made this an endeavour that was very much worthwhile pursuing for all of us - in fact here is a link to a video of one of my ex students and who even mentions my book, so thanks Chris.

We then took early semi-retirement and moved to the Isle of Skye to run Photography workshops as well as a B&B specifically for landscape photographers, so I could talk about all things photography to them as I served them their full Scottish breakfast and give them tips to where all the best photographic locations on the island were. We both then took full retirement around 5 years ago and where I began to write down all those locations in detail, along with everything else I had learnt about landscape photography over the decades, plus all the little easy tricks I had developed to help me process my images more effectively.

 

 

..and that is pretty much all there is to tell you about me, my life and my photographic career, because 'the rest' as they say 'is nothing but history'.

David Michael Hickey, M. Sc., Pg. C. E.

I normally don't use those letters after my name anymore and especially after retiring as a university lecturer around 16 years ago, because it looks a little too pompous and unnecessary to my mind. But, as I am endeavouring to paint you a picture that fully portrays who I am and how I got here, then I suppose those letters do form quite a large part of my story.

I would now like to give my special thanks to all the members of the Penistone Camera Club for helping me to develop my craft and without who's tireless help and encouragement, I probably wouldn't be half as competent at landscape photography, as I would like to hope that I am today.

I would also like to thank all those schools, colleges, polytechnics and universities, where I both learnt and eventually taught and for their willingness to give me, a totally uneducated drop out with a bad attitude when I was young, the chance to take a second bite of the cherry.

And finally I would like to give a big thanks to everyone on the Luminous Landscape forum, which is the only forum where I still regularly post any of my work and for the ongoing encouragement that you guys are always willing to give to me. And of course Michael Reichmann himself, who created the Luminous Landscape web site in the first place, as well as what I firmly believe to be the best series of both entertaining and educational landscape photography videos ever created and who sadly passed away in 2016.