Lately, Wonderful Machine has been adding a lot of new and exciting photographers to our roster. One of these new photographers is actually one of our youngest. Although 21-year-old Dom Romney of England is not quite our youngest photographer (that would be 17-year-old fashion photographer Lucia Pang), he’s already been in the photo business for seven years, selling his first picture at 14. Finding out Dom was barely the legal drinking age, yet was running a successful photo business (something photographers twice his age often struggle with) I decided to get in touch and learn more about Wonderful Machine’s wunderkind.
Apparently, teenage Dom began his foray into photography by shooting news work before finding his focus in the sport and automotive photo world. As stated earlier, he sold his first photograph at the ripe old age of 14, but admits that he didn’t start making a regular income of it until he left high school. Once he was out of school, Dom started working freelancing for his local paper, which was a great experience and, “was an incredibly valuable time for me, I was working with a really great photography team and doing the sort of work that you never do when your shooting for yourself.”
Thinking that Dom must have had a deep desire and passion for photography, I was surprised by his answer to what made him pursue a photo career so young. According to Dom, he’s not exactly sure how or why it happened,
Honestly I’m not too sure. I wanted to go into doing VFX work for film and TV I couldn’t say at what point I decided to focus on the photography, it just snowballed and the next thing I know I’m having work published in the national papers. However, my choice to change from news to commercial work is one that I remember very well, the harder I pushed myself with my news work the more I found myself disgruntled because I didn’t have full control and the images were never perfect. February 2010 I won the MSA young Motorsport Photographer of the year award and decided it was a good a time as any to leave the news world behind and follow my desire to shoot features. I’ve never looked back.
The first big gig Dom landed once he left photojournalism was shooting stills of the finale of the UK reality TV program, MasterChef. I asked him about the assignment,
I was shooting the final where they had to cook a 3 course meal for 200+ VIP guests at Burghley Horse Trials (which is a premier horse trail event in the UK). The venue was in a marque at dusk, no real lighting apart from a couple of strip lights and the two tiny portable lights the TV crew had. I was working for the company that was doing the catering , wasn’t allowed to use flash. It was a case of iso 1600, f2.8 at about a 1/60th, and just hope. Real baptism of fire but the client loved the images. I’ve done a couple more jobs for them since then and they still license and use a couple of my images nearly 4 years on.
Dom has already gotten some great assignments under his belt, including shooting Jack Moule, the freestyle jet skier. Like Dom, Jack is young talent, a national champion at just 14. Dom had a great time working with Jack as he, “oozes energy and enthusiasm and you just get whipped up in all this energy and its an amazing environment to shoot.”
Things have been going well for Dom, even if a handful of prospective clients have brushed him off for being too young. He’s found some real advantages to being a young photographer, “No real overheads, no mortgage, no family. It means that so long as I can pay the rent, I can push really hard on the important things for work.”
As for the ever changing photo industry, Dom is undaunted,
It’s an incredibly exciting time. Digital is still allowing us to push the boundaries of what’s possible, video and moving images are allowing us to be creative in new ways, and the iPad has nearly single-handedly changed the way magazines and newspapers work. Sure it’s becoming more competitive, but that should allow the cream to rise to the top, the ones who have the drive and determination to succeed will, and with that, will reap better rewards. I think it’s a brilliant time for those that are prepared to push themselves further.