'Photography is the art of freezing moments' says former Limerick engineer

Donal O'Regan


Donal O'Regan



JOHN McGarry’s mantra is, “Life is too short to not be doing what you really want to do!”

And what John loves to do is take photographs. He has been doing it full-time for over 15 years but like many in this series it wasn’t his first career.

“I previously worked as an electronics engineer in industry for almost 25 years,” said John

However, he was always fascinated by photography as an art format. His other passion being music / guitar.

“Photography is a way to freeze moments in time. It’s got the technical aspects you need to master as well as all the social and business skills you need to run a successful business.

“My career as a photographer really had its roots in the 80’s when I first discovered 35mm photography. My first camera was an Olympus OM10 which I still have to this day! I remember buying a suite of Tamron lenses for the OM10 which really accelerated my photography at the time,” said John, who is Limerick born and bred.

John’s transition into full-time photography came when he was made redundant.

“I had a choice to make - either I could stay in industry or try something different with my life. I choose to branch into photography. I jumped ship – some of my colleagues thought I was raving mad as I had reached a position as senior engineer with the company I worked for.

“I thought to myself yes there will be trials and tribulations along the way, but my heart said follow a path in photography. Life is too short was my mantra at the time of this upheaval.”

John trained with Elinchrom in studio photography outside Bristol where they taught the art of studio photography. He also trained with a photographer he really admires – Bjorn Thomassen, a brand ambassador to Elinchrom.

His business is titled John McGarry Photography and Video, covering all aspects of photography – weddings, studio portraiture, corporate, commercial as well as film making / video production.

The one question we have asked all participants in this series is, “What makes a good photographer?”

“To me as a people photographer there are many aspects that go into creating a successful image. The lighting has to be right, the composition is highly significant, but most importantly I go for a real human connection with the subject/s. Learning the skills of people-watching comes with time.”

On a wedding shoot, for example, John says you really need to know where to be and know when key moments will occur.

“These are the real skills needed to be a sought after photographer – this is reportage photography in its true sense. The photographer is the observer as opposed to director. Just like learning a musical instrument it takes time and patience but it is highly rewarding to achieve a body of work that your client is happy with.”

John says photography has taught him a lot about life.

“Far more than anything I learned in my engineering career. It taught me about the photographic industry, real people skills, how to survive in economic downturns. It taught me business skills and gave me a new life in a career I love.

“Yes it has been the road less travelled but as I mentioned before I keep coming back to my mantra - life is too short to not be doing what you really want to do!”

For more click here; email info@jmcgphoto.com or contact 086 3408209 061 224569.