As long as I can remember, I was fascinated by photographs. I begged and pleaded for a good camera and at the age of 13 my parents bought me my first SLR camera. An entry level Ricoh, but it was the start of what has become my career.
At age 16, I painted the perimeter wall of my parents home for pocket money to buy a basic enlarger and all the chemicals and trays needed to set up a rudimentary darkroom in an unused outbuilding on the property.
At age 17, I did my first commercial job which commissioned me to take photographs for the instruction manual of an electronic medical device. I supplied the printed images used for the print and this machine was sold, and used very successfully, locally and internationally. Whist the payment I received seems completely insignificant today, it equated to 15 average tanks of petrol in those days, and that in today’s comparison is very significant. My future career was determined at that point.
After finishing school, I served my defence force conscription in Pretoria and as I had a polaroid camera, was the guy everyone in the barracks came to for pics to send home. This served my pocket well and bought my luxuries and entertainment whilst serving my 2 year stint.
On completion of army I was set on studying photography but funds for this were not forthcoming from my father who said he was not going to pay for me to study a hobby.
So a career in the insurance sector began. Whilst my interest in photography never waned, I became less involved with it as I was running my own business as a claims assessor and frankly did not have the time. As most people review their life when they turn 40, so did I. I realised that my business was doing well, but that I was truly not happy. My job as an insurance assessor meant that everything I dealt with was negative – people having break ins, fires, floods etc. and sometimes these were accompanied with injury or loss of life. This realisation and self analyses, that I was becoming a miserable old man, triggered a change of thinking and within a few months I had purchased up to date photographic equipment and closed the claims assessing business to follow my original dream of becoming a photographer.
As many full time photographers will attest, the business of photography is not easy, nor is it money making. It’s a tough industry with loads of competition from who have a camera and state themselves to be in business. I quickly realised that in order to succeed in this field one needed to constantly improve knowledge and technique. I found a mentor whose training courses I attended, the Late Mark Thomas, from Johannesburg, and he guided me through some really challenging times such as my purchase of studio equipment and the mind set needed to work out the lighting to achieve the ideas I had in my head. After Mark’s passing, I decided to also start training and wrote the photography, creative lighting and photo editing courses that I currently still give.
In the business of photography I realised that my interests lay in marketing, or, commercial photography. To produce an image that induces people to purchase is a real rush for me. One of my most memorable moments was after having done a huge job for one of PMB’s top retailers, the catalogue of products which they produced, and the prices, caused huge traffic jams around the store and to hear drivers honking and swearing at each other in their attempts to get into the store still brings goose bumps when I reflect on it. There is huge satisfaction in knowing that you produced the visual inspiration for this chaos.
I am proud to be associated with several retailers and manufacturers as my regular clients and and hugely Blessed by their long standing support on a regular basis.
I have become adept at all genre’s of photography as can be seen in my online portfolio on Africa Media Online and my online portfolio at https://youpic.com/photographer/peterwickham3/
After closing my Insurance claims assessing business some 13 years ago, I can honestly say that whilst I am not better off in a financial sense, I am so much more fulfilled as a complete person with so much positivity and support also coming from my lovely wife Tatiana. I remain inspired to keep seeking the images that make the serotonin flow though my veins. This is and always will be my reason for existing. Our choices of talents and careers are in the end not ours, but directed by God, and when we follow the path He has selected, then we become truly happy at peace with ourselves. My life and current profession as a photographer are testament to this.
I am Peter and this is my story.