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United Kingdom

November 2018

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Peter Aitchison

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My career began in the 1980s with a chance meeting and an opportunity to help out in a busy London studio shooting still life for advertising. After a few years, studio life gave way to the lure and excitement of freelance work for various newspapers and PR agencies. A lot of doors opened up for me including a spell as a Royal Rota Photographer and four great years shooting stills on TV shows The Big Breakfast and Big Brother. More importantly, my work often involved travel for assignments and a subconscious seed must have been sown. Life in London was good. I'd built a solid CV, enjoyed a good reputation and was offered several interesting opportunities. But I wasn’t satisfied. Something was missing. A combination of circumstances resulted in my wife and I moving from our very busy life in London to a completely different world in Derbyshire. Not everything went to plan, if there ever was one, and a long spell of illness kept me away from photography for a while. I feared that I may never get back to it but a chance trip to Amsterdam rekindled my desire and I took some casual street shots while wandering around without really thinking about it. These turned out to be my introduction to travel photography. Soon afterwards I booked the first of my many trips to India and threw myself in at the deep end. I'll never forget my first morning in Old Delhi standing in the street amid the noise and the chaos, not to mention the smells! I met Shiva, the founder of a charity that helped provide education in the slums. He took me around and I was allowed to take pictures. I was wondering whether I had done the right thing: I honestly didn’t know how to react to the poverty and misery and I questioned whether I should be taking photos. Then it happened: I saw two small children sat on a wall smiling at me. In that moment their happiness cut through the desperation of their situation and I took my first India picture. Technically it wasn’t great but it was everything and it changed me there and then. For the rest of my stay I was everywhere, chatting with people and taking pictures with no inhibitions. Years of experience in photography had given me the skill but two kids on a wall had given me the inspiration and direction. From then on I travelled as much as possible. My photographic style began to include street photography as well as travel: there's a fine line between the two. What's very important to me is that my work is real. By that I mean there is no image manipulation and the only 'set-up' I ever do is for a street portrait where I may ask the subject to move more into the natural light. I don't use extra lighting or reflectors. The other thing that matters to me is communication. I prefer to try to talk with people and shoot at the same time. It's a natural process and even when language is a barrier a smile goes a long way.



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Artworks by Peter Aitchison

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