To me, the counterculture was always what I grew up with the hippies in the late '60s. But, however you define it, it's really the excesses of youth and it's something that everyone goes through to some extent. Or if they don't, they should do.— Derek Ridgers
The most unpopular Derek Ridgers quotes that will activate your desire to change
I went from being an underpaid ad man to quite a successful photographer in a very short time. Success breeds confidence and as soon as I got properly confident, I developed my own style. After that I never looked back.
Once I became a photographer, it stopped me being scared or intimidated by gangs of young men of whatever stripe. Initially, I could hide behind my camera but eventually I came to realize that if I was polite and friendly to them, then they probably would be to me too - a good life lesson.
I preferred that option, where my camera (and by proxy, me) could look them straight in the eye. The way they reacted to me was always interesting. Sometimes hard young men would reveal vulnerability and a softer side. In the case of teenage girls, I often got a fascinating glimpse of the woman inside.
When I was starting, I was very much influenced by the straight up, eyes to camera style of August Sander. He is really the only one. Had I known then the work of people like Ken Russell, Vivian Maier, Helen Levitt, and Steven Berkoff, they would undoubtedly have influenced me too.
That's one of the wonderful things about the whole process of photography - eye contact can be very revealing.
Nowadays everyone has a camera and the Internet means everything is instantly accessible. Unlike some photographers, I don't see this as a problem. If anything interesting happens in the world today, there will be someone around to record it.
My parents, though very loving, were not what one would ever describe as outgoing and therefore when I was young I was quite shy and socially awkward. Having a camera changed all that. It gave me an excuse to go anywhere and approach anybody.
In the age of social media, you have the selfie and some people - not always young people - seem obsessed with showing the world what their face looks like almost every day. Just like some people are obsessed with showing the world what their dinner looks like. It's beyond my understanding to be honest.
When I gave up my office job and became a full-time professional photographer, my fortunes certainly improved markedly. We moved away from the council estate into our own house and for the first time in my life, I had a little spare money.
The big downside to the global village that the Internet has created is that nothing has time to grow out of the public gaze and, even more dangerous, whatever your personal interests might be, there will always be someone somewhere to provide validation and encouragement.
Things are very different now because a lot of those little clubs don't exist.
In Soho for instance, where nearly half my nightlife photographs were taken, it's rapidly changing. There isn't the same after dark frisson of excitement about the place any more.
I started out, in the mid-'70s, taking photographs of rock bands that I liked but not because I really wanted to photograph them. Initially, I was pretending to be a photographer, simply so that I could go up to the front of the crowd and be a bit closer to the bands. But, I found I was gradually developing an interest in the photos I took.
Anyway, the fetish crowd, compared to some of the people that hung out with the skinheads, was all pussycats.
Many nightclubs from this era were very loud and very dark.
Plus some of the best ones were incredibly crowded. To begin with, I could seldom get back far enough to get people into frame from head to foot and when I could, people would be constantly walking in front of me all the time. Then I bought a 24-mm lens and only had to be four or five feet away.
Only a very small proportion of us take those excesses with us into later life.
In the age before everyone had a camera, it was worthwhile, in my opinion, to record those excesses. Sometimes, many times actually, the young people I photographed were only dressed that way for one night; that one night that they got snapped by me.