Adopted and raised in the east end of Glasgow, an area in 60’s and 70’s many outwith its boundaries viewed as being under privileged, scarred with social issues, gangs and poverty but which David notes ‘that whilst there was much to merit its reputation, I only saw it as the most wonderful character filled playground any kid could hope for’. His inspirational talks demonstrate how anyone can change the course of their lives if they overcome fear and follow instinctive ideas.
Challenged by dyslexia, he left school aged 16 with little qualifications. After undertaking various jobs, by 19 he was serving on a Royal Navy minesweeper. By 21, he was a prison officer at Glasgow’s notorious Barlinnie prison.
After seven years, his life changed when aged 28 he picked up a camera for the first time and soon after he took the decision to resign from the Prison service and return to full time education as a mature student. Over the following three years he drove daily between Glasgow and Edinburgh to study photography, film and television at Edinburgh Napier University.
This courageous move, combined with his creative ideas, changed the course of his life and opened doors to a world he couldn’t have previously imagined.
After graduating, he quickly made a name for himself in London as a regular contributor at some of the world’s leading magazines, which included being a masthead Condè Nast photography editor at GQ, Vogue and Tatler. His client base was as diverse and was his sitters with his portrait sitters reading like a who’s who in the world of art, literature, stage and cinema.
Moving to New York after the Millennium, his creative approach and down-to-earth sociable personality saw his reputation expand further with work across international publications and advertising. This led to high-profile campaigns and collaborations with major brands such as Paramount Pictures, Coca Cola, Anthropologie, and Panasonic – with the later creating their UK national TV and print campaign around him and his work. He was the only non-US citizen asked to collaborate in USA Networks multi-million initiative, The Character Project.
He has exhibited globally in both private and national galleries and in 2015 became the first photographer to have an exhibition in The Scottish Gallery’s 173-year history. To this date he is still the only photographic artist whose work the gallery represents and exhibits.
In 2012 in recognition of his achievement with his chosen industry he was awarded an Hon Dr of Arts from Edinburgh Napier University and in 2015 undertook the responsibility of Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, a post he will hold for five years.
David has himself established a reputation as an inspirational speaker, demonstrating through his life what can be achieved through courage, change, hope and creativity. In 2017, he was invited to speak at TEDx Glasgow and currently serves on the Scottish Government's Creative Advisory Group.
This remarkable career all stems from a simple outlook and philosophy he holds true; “I don’t care where you come from…only where you hope to go”.
Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.