PhotoSecrets started on a vacation. In 1994, I took a trip around the world. One place I’d always wanted to visit was the beach used in the 1974 James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun. The world’s most expensive assassin, Scaramanga (played by Christopher Lee), lives on an island with a limestone tower in the bay. As a boy in England, this seemed to me the epitome of exotic, idyllic, far-away romance.
I believed the island was in Thailand but none of the travel books I had showed a picture of it. This seemed odd, since it was the whole point of my trip to Thailand. I thought there ought to be a travel guide that, instead of having text about hotels and using photos as illustrations, had photos of destinations with text to describe them. While sitting in the Indian embassy in Singapore, I imagined the book I’d like: PhotoSecrets.
I’d never done any publishing or non-amateur photography before, in fact my background was in electrical and computer engineering. But on April 1, 1996, I quit my sales position with British Telecom and dove into a world I knew nothing about: publishing.
Choosing San Francisco as the first book, I drove around the Bay Area, photographing every classic sight, and sleeping in a tent or the car at night. I bought an Apple Quadra 605, scanned my 35mm Velvia slides in Kodak’s new PhotoCD format, and laid out the book in Quark XPress 3.32. A year later, in April 1997, I printed PhotoSecrets San Francisco and Northern California.
The PhotoSecrets website started on July 30, 1995, as a marketing tool for the book PhotoSecrets San Francisco. Over the years, the site has grown sporadically, with photo tips, links and books in 1997, location guides in 1999, advertising in 2006, and print-on-demand books and CSS coding in 2010.
In May 2011, I launched my new approach to publishing: an iPad book that is also a website — PhotoSecrets Sell Photos Online. Time will tell how that works out!