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John Riley Biography

Born and raised in Irlams 'o 'th Height, a village in Pendleton in Salford. Married Sue and moved to Leigh, Lancashire and then on to nearby Tyldesley. A three year stint at Manchester University studying Dentistry led to a career in selling equipment and materials to dentists, driving some 30,000 – 45,000 miles each year to do so. Eventually redundancy freed me and I became a semi-retired freelance photographer, some would say at last becoming a round peg in a round hole. Now you will find me out shooting images, at home running technical tests or on the computers processing the results. I am likely to reply almost immediately to to e-mails as I am likely to be here in the room that we call, slightly tongue-in-cheek, the IT Department.

Interests are pretty wide-ranging, including of course photography in the broadest sense. One major project was to use and be able to use almost any type of camera right from the the 1800s to the current day, and that project was completed a few years ago. Reviewing keeps me up to date as the technology continues to progress. Other interests include reading, canals, general industrial heritage and archaeology, music (specialising in Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons) and collecting anything and everything that takes my fancy. TV tastes include Doctor Who, The Avengers, classic TV in general and anything different and well made.

My specialised interest in Pentax started from the first moment I looked through the viewfinder of my first Spotmatic, the SP1000. That gorgeous clarity, sharply defined within a pure black frame is my definitive way to view the world and make images. Pentax is a superb example of a range of manufactured tools that is both the path to creativity and also a gem of engineering elegance and excellence in its own right.

Early photographic inspirations would be Ansel Adams, Julia Margaret Cameron and many others. Magazines followed over the years included Photography (Kevin MacDonnell), Photo Technique (Jack Schofield) and the short lived Creative Photography. Collecting antique books led me to Photograms of the Year and bound volumes of early Amateur Photographer plus a vast number of large and small format magazines that have not survived the passage of time. There is always something in photography to expand our inspiration, from every era.

John Riley Photography