John d Green won his first camera aged 12 – a prize for taking a photograph with a pinhole camera made from a mustard tin. The irony would not be lost in later years on John, who, in a dazzling career as a top advertising photographer in the early sixties, would go on to photograph a great deal of mustard.
John left school at 15 and began a six year apprenticeship at a firm of commercial photographers in London, learning all aspects of the business. It was only in the fourth year of his apprenticeship that he was allowed to use the company’s studio and take pictures for the first time. He never looked back. He rented his first studio in Knightsbridge, funded with £70 cash and an overdraft as long as his arm. From the off, his work was highly regarded by art directors from top advertising agencies, and within two years he was able to buy a studio in Adam & Eve Mews, Kensington, where he would be based for the rest of his career.
Whatever spare time he had in the sixties was spent motor racing, and he frequently raced at Brands Hatch and other circuits all over the country in his Marcos GT. Birds of Britain might never have been, as John almost came to a sticky end at Whitsun in 1966. He was racing at Brands Hatch when he ran out of road at the circuit, his car somersaulted four times, and he crashed into a bank. To the surprise of spectators, John was able to crawl out from the wreckage with nothing more than a broken ankle.
After the success of Birds of Britain, John moved away from photography and launched a floating nightclub and restaurant on the Thames called the Sloop John D, which he ran for four years, and then sold. He returned to photography and specialised in shooting luxury cars on location, and subsequently fashion and beauty. He then retired, never taking a photograph in anger again. John now divides his time between London and the Balearic Islands, where he is a passionate sailor.