I come from a long line of professional photographers. My grandfather – Arthur Blakey was a theatre violinist by trade, started his photographic career in the 1920’s as a press photographer for the Leeds Telegraph and Argus. At weekends he shot the charabanc parties of mill workers before they left on sightseeing trips, scurried home to his darkroom, and processed the plates in time to sell the prints to the happy tourists when they returned home. After the war he became a renowned society and wedding photographer in West Yorkshire.
My father – Donald Blakey and his younger sisters Lillian (Light), and Janine (Birch) joined the family business in Shipley and later branched out on their own to form their own successful businesses. Donald leveraged his stills photography into cinema photography, and produced and directed commercial films into his 80’s.
When I was 10 years old, my Dad moved to Nikons and handed me his Leica IIIf, the “Leica Book” and a roll of Ilford 3F with the immortal words – “100th at F8”. It took a lot of trial and error in the field and darkroom to start getting acceptable results. The camera was far better than the man for a long time and it took my Dad’s advice a while to sink in, but it has served me well ever since …
Despite a strong pull to join the family business I followed a different path through life, getting a University degree in Physics and moving to the United States. Photography took a back seat as a hobby.
My other passion was “cars.” This started in my early teens as a slot car racer which drove my interest in all the cars and drivers of that time in the 1970’s. For me this primarily meant CanAm and TransAm cars. Mark Donohue was my hero.
I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 80’s, married and had kids. When our son was young we started a family tradition of attending Monterey Car Week every year – and naturally we took our cameras.
As digital cameras matured and became more sophisticated and my opportunities increased I shot at the tracks around Northern California. On several occasions I was fortunate to be granted media passes by working for accredited publications. My skills were greatly improved by tuition from the greats (Lew Kinst and Dennis Gray) at F8 Motorsports Photography Workshops.
After finishing my career in in United States I have now returned to the United Kingdom and can concentrate on my original passion – PHOTOGRAPHY. I am located very close to one of (the?) best circuits in the world – Oulton Park. I have driven it twice recently in my track toy – a Tiger ERA 30.