Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

From Meat to Models; Interview of the Week DUMPED on the Seat of His Pants by Redundancy, Former Butcher Keith Moss Began Looking at Life through a Different Lens and Carved Himself Lucrative Contracts with Some of the Biggest Names in Business

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

From Meat to Models; Interview of the Week DUMPED on the Seat of His Pants by Redundancy, Former Butcher Keith Moss Began Looking at Life through a Different Lens and Carved Himself Lucrative Contracts with Some of the Biggest Names in Business

Article excerpt

Byline: JEZ DAVISON reports

WHAT extraordinary cocktail of circumstances can make the worlds of butchery and photography collide?

Mix 60lbs of lambs' liver with a slippery freezer floor, two crushed vertebrae and a redundancy notice and you've got your answer.

Morley-born Keith Moss is finally seeing the silver lining in a freak accident 20 years ago that accounted for his astonishing transformation from meat carver to sharp-shooter.

Although his slip on a sheet metal floor while carrying a tray of lambs' liver led to a near paralysing back injury - effectively ending his career in the meat trade - it marked the start of a Brotton-based photography business that now boasts commissions from Hilton Hotels International and Mars Confectionery.

KM Black and White Fine Art Photography's success is all the more remarkable for Keith's total lack of formal training.

But then Keith, who moved to the Tees Valley in 2004, has always done things his way.

"My dad wanted me to follow in his footsteps and become an engineer but I told him I wanted to be anything but," he says.

"I tend to speak my mind and I don't suffer fools. Sometimes people don't like it when you tell the truth but most of them appreciate honesty."

Keith's injury forced him to confront his own demons and acknowledge his days as a butcher were over well before his former employer made him redundant in 1989.

"I was angry - really angry," he says.

"I tried to get compensation through Legal Aid but the money ran out and I couldn't afford to keep paying solicitors' fees."

With no more income to fall back on, Keith decided he had nothing to lose by turning into commercial gain his "natural instinct for the way light falls on everyday objects".

Using a 1959 Rolliflex camera, he built up a private portfolio of flowers, people and buildings and showcased his talents to local companies.

The bold gamble paid off and with the help of a pounds 2,500 Arts Council grant, Keith's new venture was born in 1990.

Small commissions snowballed into larger projects as he expanded his repertoire to include model portraits, landscapes and "just life" art in which the unassuming subject is captured mid-flow on a particular task.

Eventually, his skilful lens work led to commissions from international companies as well as high profile sittings by Prince Andrew, Leslie Crowther, Mathew Kelly, Alan Shearer, Girls Aloud, Blue and Darius.

With an annual turnover of around pounds 100,000, Keith's venture may represent only a fraction of an pounds 800m regional creative sector forecast to generate 9,000 jobs in the Tees Valley, but Digital City bosses have spotted enough potential to recruit him as a mentor for fledgling start-up companies.

He's also working with local accommodation providers and tourism organisation visitTeesvalley to lay on "creative holidays" for people looking to hone their photography skills while taking a mini-break in the area. …

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