by Charlie Kaufman Published
"Photography found me at eight. My grandparents bought me a Kodak disc camera and I just loved it. I remember taking it on a family holiday to Italy and using it to shoot a wide range of scenes and people - including a terrific shot I still relish of a fire eater with three metres of flames coming out of his mouth. I was hooked from that moment."
At his elder brother's bar mitzvah he hung on to the shirt-tails of portrait photographer Richard Shymansky - and told him he wanted to work for him one day. (By age 20 Charlie owned 50% of two studios with Shymansky but they went their separate ways a few years later.) At 13 Charlie's mother allowed him to spend all the proceeds from his own bar mitzvah on photo equipment. He recalls: "It was £5,000. A lot of money. I bought a Bronica and lighting equipment plus everything else I needed to build a darkroom in the family garage."
On his fifteenth birthday Charlie starting working as an assistant to a photographer near his home town of Mill Hill. "I worked mainly as his support video-shooter at weekends. One day we covered an event at Claridges. I earned £80 and I was right up there on Cloud 9."
Charlie left school with five GCSEs: "My mum was constantly pleading with the school not to expel me for buying and selling stuff - I think she thought I was racketeering. Then finally my parents asked the careers' master what he thought I should do with my life. He told them, 'Well quite honestly he has to make his own way because one thing is for sure; nobody will be telling him what to do.'"
But it was a spell of working with Golders Green, London-based photographer, David Chesner that eventually catapulted Charlie into the world of sales, marketing and promotion.
"David was doing very well with video but after working with him for 18 months I urged him to put me on a percentage of turnover as an incentive to generate new portraiture business. In one month we shot £40,000 worth of images. But we had a disagreement and I left to start offering telesales - in the form of lead generation, for many of the big-name photographers; Ray Lowe, Peter Dyer, Eileen Mason and Trevor Yerbury. That was 17 years ago and it was the launch of The Click Group."
The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
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