A few days after my last exam and weeks before the results were due I threw a battered old Canon and a few rolls of Tri-X into a backpack and took a long route to Afghanistan.
It was 1994.
I didn’t really know what I was doing or where I was going. I hadn’t worked out how I was going to get into the country, let alone how I was going to get out. I wanted an adventure and to have a go at becoming a photographer.
I slept under the stars, next to teenage killers who’d never met a foreigner before. At night we shared greasy mutton soup as we watched tracer rounds and rockets silently rain on distant Kabul. By day we toured the front lines south of the capital, dashing crouched behind low mud walls as bullets whistled over head.
At times I wondered whether my hosts, a band of mujihadeen, linked to the murderous warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, would let me go. I was utterly dependent upon them in a hostile, alien country. After about 2 weeks they drove me back to the Pakistan border. I had shot 6 rolls of film.
But it was the start.
Today, I still get the same buzz arriving on assignment in a new country. My kit maybe a bit fancier, the brief a bit tighter, the accommodation a little plusher and the budget (hopefully) a bit more generous, but it is always a thrill to do this job.
I live in London with my wife and our two young children.