Gem Rey – Photographer
I live my l life through a lens. It has always been a passion of mine to capture all walks of life with my camera, to write, and to really live the life we are given. From an early age I used my fathers Nikon and found it intriguing what stories one could tell using ‘light’.
When I was 19 I went travelling to the tropical Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean. It was the ultimate castaway location, beautiful. I met the most fascinating people and learnt about their way of life. I taught English to the little ones in their leaf hut schools, spear fished by the light of the moon and phosphorescence that seemed to literally dance like stars in your hands.
There were problems in paradise, and due to civil unrest in the islands, what had been a haven of escapism and new life became a tainted trap exposing war, savagery and unrest. My surroundings now reminding me that they were not my own, meant it was time to go. The airports shut down so a fortunate meeting with some Australian sailors who were on route to Cairns became my ticket.
Finding a passion
Through Papua New Guinea we sailed until land had vanished from all corners of the horizons, my thoughts full, we arrived at The Great Barrier Reef. The glamorous port of Cairns greeted us with expensive arms. Having spent five months living on ‘island time’ I realised in what felt like a crashing blow, that there is so much more to life than the materialistic desires that one can so easily base their goals on. I decided that I would have to work in a field that truly meant something. And that is what I did.
I filmed bottle nose dolphins in the Bay of Islands on New Zealand’s North Island. Wild Focus Films took me to Tonga where I filmed the magnificence of the humpback whales. For Stray Travel I photographed the North and South Islands of New Zealand highlighting the adventurous and beautiful experiences the country has to offer. My passion for photography growing fast, I went on to study a diploma in photography. Coming top in my portfolio life has been exciting and rewarding since. A journey. My New Zealand tutor Mel Philips is a constant inspiration to me still in all I do.
My love of London and my roots soon got the better of me. I returned to the UK in October 2004. I took a job at a local photography studio specialising in portraiture and was made “Style Director”. I realised the real transformation and impact that a great photograph can do for someone. One specific family come to mind – the mother was terminally ill yet so young and beautiful. Their toddler had no idea what was about to happen. The fear, love and pain in the husband’s face was immense. My photographs meant something.
Other situations where children who were less able came to have their share of the light, babies who had lived through trials doctors had thought impossible, family generations in one room with the knowledge that these moments are to be cherished, teenagers wanting to express themselves through fashion, couples in love, budding models, and in some cases, famous actors. This was the unraveling of how I discovered just how much I love photographing ‘people’. London called, and my freelance life began.
Life Through A Lens
With a “Life Through A Lens” that cannot be contained and needs to be free to flow in my own style I am on a journey in this world of light. Soho in London’s West End has been my stomping ground these past few years in a beautiful eclectic top floor studio belonging to photographer Ian O’Leary. A wonderful and inspirational friend in my life.
I photograph live gigs, rock’n’roll musicians, fashion, portraits, events… my camera is my life. I strive to make a difference in this world for the better through my work. I love to experiment with mixed media and create fine art pieces with photography. I work both in the studio, on location and abroad.
It is far more of a risk to not do what you love than to do it. One life. One chance. Live it. Love it. I love my job, and I hope you enjoy my work.
Thank you. Carpe Diem.