My first picture was published when I was 17. We had gone to a Renault Rally at Longleat and the cub was being used in an advertising photoshoot. I asked if I could borrow the lion Cub and ended up with my friends' daughter, Sarah Guest, cuddling this lion cub. Can you imagine the risk assessments involved with that today?
Some of my more famous shots include:
Portsmouth News first colour edition – A night shot of the A3M taken from Portsdown Hill. One night there was an almighty thunderstorm and my friends and I went up to Portsdown Hill, set up a camera on a tripod and armed with umbrellas took open shutter shots of the storm. I captured a strike on the mast which featured in The News as well.
Right place, right time – A lightning strike on St Michaels Church, Leigh Park which caused the Church to burn down. The shot was published on the front page of the News, indeed it stopped the front page for the late edition and the next day the shot appeared in every daily paper.
All through this I had day jobs but honed my skills as a portrait and wedding photographer and as a semi-professional photographer as my family grew. Towards the end of 2006 Olan Mills folded, such a huge portrait company literally disappeared overnight, and I saw an opportunity. Rob Paul Studios was born.
I never ran a studio before! I had no idea! However, despite this, the studio opened early March 2007. Since 2008 we have literally taken thousands of pictures of children through the Baby & Toddler competition which has now grown into one of the largest competitions in the South. In 2012 tragedy hit. Whilst doing some maintenance at the studio there was a fire. It’s a well-known fact that the fire started in the kitchen when I tried to toast a hot cross bun and forgot about it.
The resulting fire caused a lot of damage and saw the studio closed for much of the year, reopening in September. Whilst this was a devastating time, the studio was able to take advantage of a complete and more modern makeover.
We continued to grow from there and in 2015 introduced a new genre of photography that saw us transform our studio into an amazing Fairy woodland scene. We have taken some phenomenal images in this set and created some very magical timeless works of art.
Early in 2016 whilst on holiday I had an accident and injured shoulder which was then operated on in August 2016. Whilst the operation itself went well my health took a turn for the worst and it flared up my ME and Fibromyalgia both of which I have managed and kept at bay for over ten years. I can often be seen "whizzing" th rough Havant on The Paulmobile aka. my mobility scooter.
I found myself increasingly less able to manage and became more reliant on the staff team. Earlier in the year, I came to the conclusion that I needed to ma ke some difficult decisions for the sake of my health and I began the process of exiting the business.
The 1st January 2018 sees me stepping out of the business altogether as Rob Paul Studios will be under new management. The new owner will carry on the brand and ethos since the studio opened coming up over 10 years ago. I will keep an interest in the studio and will watch proudly as it continues to grow.
This is an exciting time for the studio and great new ideas are already starting to build. The team are amazing and have looked after me and the studio a great deal in recent months. I know they will grow the business from here on in.
I thank in particular Emma and Bunmi over recent months, supported by Kim, they have pulled together a great deal in what has been a challenging and busy time.
I would also like to thank David, my son who also recently moved on. David contributed a great deal over his time in the Studio and does, I believe leave a legacy for the team to follow. I am sure working with dad was perhaps the most challenging!
I am looking forward to getting better and doing things that I want to while I still can. My photography will continue I am sure but will go down a different route, which one? I have no idea just yet.
There have been many clients that come to mind over the years that I have had the pleasure in meeting, indeed have captured so many wonderful memories. I consider myself so very lucky to have had such an opportunity and remember these fondly.
I bid a fond farewell to Rob Paul Studios and wish it, the team and new owner the very best of good fortune for 2018 and the coming years.
Paul Burrows 1st January 2018.