Welcome to Tony Bridge Photography and Traveller’s Tales.
I was given my first camera when I was about 5. It was an old rangefinder roll film camera that had belonged to my grandfather which he loaded up with a roll of black and white 120 film. By any standards, those first images of mine were bad, but I was proud of the pictures of my headless friends and especially of the sunflower in all its glory – just without a flower atop its truncated stem! More importantly, I marvelled at how that piece of photographic paper could hold an image of something I had seen, and keep it, frozen in time.
From then on, I always owned a camera, from those ‘70s standard 110s and 126s, through a 35mm rangefinder to my first SLR. This latter came in 1987 when heavy snow led to my town in Kent being cut off by drifts. I was desperate to get out and capture this rare event and virtually forced my father to drive me, as soon as the roads were even slightly passable to Dixons to buy the camera. Thankfully, his efforts paid off and I did manage some decent photos! The bug stayed with me for several years as I went out and about capturing the landscape around me and came into its own during a university summer break spent working and travelling in the USA. This trip added cityscapes and travel images to my repertoire.
Sadly, my interest waned after that high and through the 90s (and my 20s) my camera sat gathering dust in a cupboard as work and other activities (usually involving alcohol) took over my time. It reawakened ahead of the nearly-thirty-year-old crisis that gripped me at the turn of the millennium and which saw me quitting my job and planning a trip round the world. As I researched my trip, I knew that I would have to take a camera to capture my memories, but grew more and more determined that I would do this the right way, with a ‘proper’ camera. One of the things that had faded my interest in the past had been that the prints of the photos I had taken never seemed to capture the image I wanted, so after taking advice from photographer friends, I decided that I would shoot slides. And so, with my fairly new Minolta 404si and about 40 Fuji Sensia and a few black and white films to my name, I set off into the big wide world.
The plan had been for those 40 films to last me a year: a few shots of each place I visited would be enough. This regime lasted the first 3 weeks. It was only a couple of days into a 3 month visit to New Zealand that I realised that this country deserved better than a few snaps. I wanted to capture everything and I wanted to capture it in the right way, under the right lighting. Soon, rather than photographing the places I visited, the photography started dictating the journey. My planning became all about finding the right locations and being there at the right time. Capturing the image moved from side line to raison d’etre, from hobby to purpose, perhaps even obsession. I began to live and breathe images. The camera was almost a permanent attachment to my arm and when I wasn’t actually taking shots, my head was aswim with angles, depth of field and exposures. The 40 films for the trip became 40 for New Zealand alone and I arranged for as many again to be brought out by a friend who was joining me in Australia (film was just too expensive Down Under) and I soon started to feel the limitation of my starter level camera and its less than perfect kit lens. By the time I reached Melbourne, I had acquired a Tokina 17-35, and a Sigma 28-70 EX (fabulous lens). Finally, a secondhand window at a Melbourne camera store tempted me into the ultimate upgrade, a Minolta 700si.
I didn’t look back. Unleashed with some decent kit and a few months of regular practice, my technique improved day by day and my images from Australia and on into South East Asia were some of the best in my portfolio. The bug had well and truly bitten and the disease had spread. Seeing the world through the viewfinder of an SLR became normal, as did travelling the world capturing landscapes and cityscapes. At that point, I knew what I wanted to do with my life…
Well that was more than 10 years ago. The harsh reality was that I was broke when I got back from my travels and had to work full time. Work soon became a career and an obsession soon became a hobby again. The truth was that I didn’t have the financial basis or the bravery to make that step into being a professional travel photographer and writer as was the will of my heart. Both travel and photography (and travel writing) are bugs that do not easily let go, however. So now, whenever work allows, I travel, both in the UK and abroad. Where I go, the camera goes and I still try my hardest to the point of obsession, to capture the best images I can of the places I go. What I seek, as always, is to capture the mood, the feeling, the soul of a place, not just it’s likeness. Sometimes I succeed, often I don’t, but always I continue to try. I still harbour the dream of making a living out of this, and who knows, it might happen, but in the meantime, I’m happy for this borderline obsession to see me out in the world, with a camera attached to my arm, looking at the world through that little rectangular viewfinder…
Thank you for taking the time to visit this site and look around at the galleries for the places I’ve been. Thank you too for reading my scribblings in the Traveller’s Tales section. I hope both bring you as much pleasure in the viewing as they did me in the creation. Please feel free to leave comments. I have a weakness in always wanting to achieve perfection, so all criticism will be taken in the spirit it is meant!
Now based in Lairg, Scotland after making the move from one end of the UK to the other. Whereas previously I called the mellow landscapes of the New Forest and the Hampshire/ Dorset countryside my photographic home, you will now find me wandering the mountains, moors and coastline of Sutherland. My main subjects remain landscape, cityscape and general travel photography, with locations stretching across the world. Recently I have started to branch out with macro and transport being added to my portfolio. I shoot with a Canon EOS R5 and L-Series lenses for the most part, also using an EOS-M50 to provide a lightweight travel body. Everything is taken in RAW and uploaded into Adobe Lightroom for cataloguing, captioning and for some basic adjustments. Manipulation is kept to an absolute minimum with generally just a bit of dust removal and tweaks to contrast, exposure and saturation. Oh, and the more than occasional straightening of a wonky horizon! The images chosen for the galleries here on the website are also uploaded to Flickr and Facebook, with a selection added to 500px and Instagram and all are available for licensing and reproduction – just contact me for details.