David Kilpatrick announced as PhotoX Prize Judge

He set up Icon Publications Ltd in 1987 with his wife Shirley to publish photographic magazines and has done so ever since. Icon currently publishes Cameracraft and Master Photography (f2 Freelance Photographer merged with Cameracraft which replaces it as the title). Look for it in the newsagents, subscribe through Icon Publications home page, or read editions of both magazines free on ISSUU.

We catch up with him to find out more about his background.

My teenage photographic interest was in photojournalism, but I was told when I left school that training as a photographer never led to a management career. I didn’t think my university place to read English would lead to one either, so I joined The Star evening newspaper in Sheffield as a trainee journalist. At 23 I had qualified and progressed to writing and sub-editing on the features desk, which allowed me to work with the staff photographers and designers. I was not allowed to use a camera, of course, but in my own time I started to be published widely and was Associate Editor of Photo Technique – I earned more from sending my pictures to editors and agencies than I did from my job, so I decided to leave and go freelance, and one of my first contracts was as editor of The Photographer.

A few years later a neighbour who was chief photographer of a commercial studio told me it was closing down and he had a chance to buy the business, so we formed a partnership and did so. That’s when I had to learn large format photography, colour processing and studio lighting – no more available light or a press flashgun and 35mm for everything. I qualified with the IIP in 1979. The business was successful and a year later my partner bought me out, with enough cash in hand to buy a Nottinghamshire farmhouse and convert the range of barns into studio, offices and darkroom. This in turn was busy and profitable for eight years, employing young staff who have all gone on to have lifetime success in their own businesses. In 1988 we sold up, moved to Scotland, and used the capital freed up to equip one of the first digital bureaux with scanning, colour separation imagesetting, early digital photography and websites. We produced magazines, books, leaflets and catalogues and specialised in the technical side of a new workflow. Shirley gained her MSc in Colour Science for research we sponsored into visual colour matching between inkjet, dye sublimation and thermal wax printing systems.

My early advisors were wrong – my ‘best photographer’ friend at The Star left to found a major photo lab, and my studio partner eventually became Managing Director of one of the UK’s largest modem and satellite communications companies. Photographers can progress to a management career! I never have. I started Icon Publications Ltd, and invested in technology, because I love being in control of creative and technical processes.