At one point my entire lighting repertoire consisted of a couple of reading lamps. That was before I moved up to a pair of really old Bowens 750s - which I bought for £50. They were brilliant.'
He thinks it was because his mother had to bear the brunt of extreme labour pains just before he was born - so the payback was his Christian name: McVirn.
"Well I've got a sister called Valerie and a brother called Mervyn - so there's got to be some good reason that I ended up with McVirn" jokes the 46 year old London-based photographer - whose friends all call him 'Mac'.
Big Mac (he's also a karate brown belt) used to be a car cleaner at a Vauxhall dealership next to West Ham football stadium - but these days the only thing you'll find him polishing will be a camera lens before a shoot.
Interestingly, it was a stunning-looking woman running topless along a Spanish beach with an Alsatian in tow that changed his life forever.
Explains Mac: "It was back in 1986 and I had decided to take my first ever summer holiday abroad. I wanted to shoot some film despite the fact that I knew very little about photography at the time.
A good friend lent me his Canon AE-1 Program, which at the time was one of the most popular amateur cameras ever brought to market. Of course, I had no clue how to use it so I picked up a copy of Practical Photography magazine and just read and re-read.
Then about ten weeks before the holiday I bought an additional lens, a tripod, a camera bag, various filters and a cable release.
When I got to Spain I just happened to be strolling along a beach when this beautiful woman jogged by with her dog. She was topless and as she ran past a large rock in the water the waves just crashed right behind. I got a great picture and that was it. I made up my mind right there and then that I was going to be a photographer."
Mac managed to talk his way into a job as a junior at Metro Imaging in London. "I had to be a bit creative to get that job" he says. "I persuaded a friend who knew about printing techniques to provide me with a couple of prints that I passed off as my own. I guess it was cheating but I was really desperate to find a way into the business."
The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
You have 340 days until The Societies of Photographers Convention starting on Wednesday 22nd January 2020