Matt's Story

6th November 2014

Matt fell ill with meningococcal septicaemia at the age of 20. But the keen photographer fought back to overcome his after-effects of amputations and focus on a career in his chosen field

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Professional photographer

Four years later and this determination is beginning to pay dividends as he moves from strength to strength with his university work and as a freelance photographer. He shares his story here.

In February 2010 I started to feel ill with sickness and a headache. My dad randomly checked on me at around 3am, where he found a rash. He called 999 and I went straight to hospital where doctors battled to keep me alive. In the end I came away having only lost most of my digits on my right hand and the tips of the fingers on my left hand - not ideal for someone starting a degree in photography.

Taking photography seriously

I've been taking photography seriously since around 2007. After finding I could not capture what I wanted on a simple compact camera I saved up for months working in a camera shop on Saturdays until I could afford my first SLR camera. I then went straight on to study it at A-level at Bath College after leaving John of Gaunt School in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. I only left with one A-level from Bath, but that was the only one I wanted. 

Photography. I didn't quite feel ready for university yet, so decided to enrol on a one year BTEC course at Trowbridge College, which, of course, was in photography. By the end I felt ready to attempt university and went looking around at the choices available.

Change my life forever

Little did I know though that this would be a year that would change my life forever. While looking I became ill with tonsillitis and missed many weeks of looking and applying. So, I decided to take a year out. Unfortunately, I became ill again, this time with meningitis. Over the next month I went through a lot, losing my fingers and losing the ability to walk for a while to name the worst of it. But somehow it didn't faze me. I can’t explain why. I guess losing fingers should really make you think about stopping photography as a serious career, but I really don’t remember that crossing my mind.

Massive learning curve

After only being out of hospital for a few months I went straight to looking at universities again, where I came across UCA Farnham. Fast forward six months and many surgeries and physios later I was at an interview for Farnham and somehow got in straight away, but deferring entry for a year.

This gave me just over a year to try and recover, have more surgery and find out just what I could do with a camera. It has been a massive learning curve finding out what I can and can’t do physically, but all seems to be working out fine, judging by my grades and my photos. So hopefully now it’s just onwards and upwards.

Visit Matt's website here