Fixation Team: Mick Edwards, Canon Tech Manager image

Fixation Team: Mick Edwards, Canon Tech Manager

From teenager to manager of the Canon side, it’s Mick Edwards featuring in the latest of our Fixation team blogs

There can’t be many of Fixation’s long-term customers who wouldn’t recognise Mick Edwards. He’s been with the company from the beginning, assisting its founder, Mike Allen, to build it from a two-room operation to today’s repairs powerhouse.

These days Mick runs the Canon side of the workshop as Tech Manager, dividing his time between repairing kit and cracking (notoriously bad) jokes with long-suffering colleagues and customers who stop by. He tells us more about his history with Fixation…

In the beginning…..

‘Mike Allen and I met in 1982 when I was 18 and he started work at KJP shortly after I did.  Previously he was Service Manager at Nikon and when I asked him what he was doing at KJP he said he’d come to build a workshop. So I said, “Give us a job!” And for better or worse he did!

‘We built a workshop out of practically nothing, working from August ’82 until Fixation’s proper opening in June 1988 and from there it developed into what it is today.

‘It’s been fun. I love it, absolutely love it.  At first we only repaired Nikon products, but after 10 or so years we were approached by Canon who wanted us to offer the same service to their customers too. We were keen to help, so after sorting out details like the supply of spare parts, we were off and away!

‘From then I was doing Nikon, Kodak and Canon, but Canon just got bigger and bigger and needed managing properly, so I took on this role and have done it ever since.’

Fixation’s reputation

‘Relationships have always been important. In the beginning we had just two rooms and customers would come in and sit in the waiting room, which was just a sofa, and we used to repair their kit while they waited.  When we were done they’d have the confidence to just pick it up and go do a job, or even fly around the world. The good reports started from there.’

His day-to-day role

‘I’m very much hands on – I love fixing things, it’s why I like the job.

‘The challenge is what we’re all after. You’re repairing the same products, but you want to do it to the best standard because you’re only as good as your last repair. We’re all the same and proud of what we do.’

Most memorable Fixation moments

‘As much as I love the day-to-day work, the different experiences are always exciting.  Highlights include building depots at the London Olympics and Commonweath Games in Glasgow, but one of the most memorable was in 2007 when we worked with PA to set up cameras in the Royal Ballroom in Buckingham Palace.

‘PA provides images for all Royal Investitures in this room, but they can’t have a roaming photographer present.  So we helped them set up a discrete camera and cabling so they can operate the camera remotely, shooting the ceremonies with the images transmitted directly to their picture desk.

‘There have also been some great customer stories. We’ve had cameras dropped in the sea then put in a bag of vodka. People think the alcohol will prevent corrosion, but it’s a waste of vodka if you ask me!’

Mick’s hobbies outside of work

‘I enjoy riding motorbikes, but would say my real passion is scuba-diving. I organise my own diving club and am an instructor too. I may be in control at work and when I’m diving, but at home I just do as I’m told by my wife and two boys!’


Behind the scenes: Diving with Tuna image

Behind the scenes: Diving with Tuna

Louise Murray dons her diving gear to photograph the Atlantic bluefin tuna

The Friday morning before I leave for Andalusia to shoot Atlantic bluefin tuna, I’m making a routine  test check of all my diving and underwater photography gear. A sticky button in the camera housing means that I cannot switch between stills and video. I call Fixation for an emergency assist and hastily make my way down for an urgent repair, before catching my flight later that day.

In Spain, it’s 32°C with a light breeze and I am just about to dive with 900 giant fish, each weighing between 150 and 200 kilos. Understandably I’m a bit nervous. I’ve been dressed in a black dry suit for over two hours and am struggling to stay cool. The boat is moored in a fattening pen about a mile offshore and we can see the huge fish swimming below the surface.

Here, fish captured in May are fattened up on a daily diet of defrosted sardines and mackerel before being sold to Japanese buyers in September. At least 10 tonnes of sardines have preceded me into the water today. This is not good. Fish scales are highly reflective and my underwater flash will bounce off them, a bit like using flash in a snowstorm!

Captured endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus, are fattened up in net pens holding up to 1000 fish in Barbate, Spain. They are fed 15 tonnes a day of sardines and mackerel.

For safety I have a dive buddy, Antonio. I’ve explained the nature of a fisheye lens and its 180-degree angle of view to him, so he is briefed to stay behind me unless I call him into a picture for scale. Antonio is there because although I am a certified commercial diver, these nets and others like them in fish farms worldwide are dangerous places to be. The powerful fish must swim constantly, and they do so in circles, meaning they create a vortex. The unwary can be sucked to the bottom of the net 30 metres down, or pushed against the outside of the swirling fish, where it’s easy to find dive gear or camera getting caught in the net. Alone, it’s quite possible to drown.

I’m here to complete a shoot of the tuna fishery for a German magazine – Unterwasser – producing an environmental piece about the state of the Atlantic tuna.

It has taken me since February, with the help of an excellent young translator called Polly, to negotiate diving with these magnificent fish. It’s now July. I’ve spent ages studying the tide tables and wind forecasts to find a small window when the sea surface will be calm, and visibility underwater acceptable. If you think topside shooting can be challenging, try working underwater. Imagine shooting in zero gravity you’ll get part of the picture, but then throw in wind, tides, currents and limited visibility – the variables are near-endless.

Fortunately I have excellent kit – an Aquatica housing for my Nikon D800 with a glass dome port which allows access to all of the camera’s controls while underwater, plus a couple of Inon flashes and a pair of Sola video lights.

Louise Murray with Nikon D800 in Aquatica housing on board the tuna dive boat at Barbate, Spain

Louise Murray with Nikon D800 in Aquatica housing on board the tuna dive boat at Barbate, Spain

Back at the hotel I finish downloading and backing up, and yes, predictably the shots are murky, turbid and full of reflective fish scales. And worse there is a reflected Nikon logo in some images when shooting into sun. This at least is easily rectified by sticking a plaster over the logo on the D800 and blacking it out with a marker pen.

I’ve managed to explain to Sebastian the boss why it’s so important for me to start shooting before the sardines go into the pen. Tomorrow I will be diving with 900 large, fast and hungry fish. Time for a cold beer.

The next day we travel offshore in a rolling swell. You need a good sense of balance and a strong stomach for this kind of work. This time I get in before the sardines, and the tuna – known as the Maseratis of the sea – are truly motoring in a tight swirl of fishy power. Antonio is with me and I get the shots over the course of an hour in the water.

Louise Murray and dive buddy Antonio

Louise Murray and dive buddy Antonio

The dead sardines start to rain down in the latter half of the shoot, so I decide to try and focus on a single sardine, secure in the knowledge that there shortly be a 150-200 kilo fish blasting out of the blue with the intent of dispatching it. I don’t get the money shot, as the acceleration of this top ocean predator is hard to predict, and with limited visibility I can’t see them coming fast out of the blue.

A few more dives and eventually I would have nailed it, but the weather stopped cooperating and with high winds forecast for the next five days, I had to leave – me, my cameras and all of my dive kit stinking strongly of sardines.

Captured endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus, are fattened up in net pens holding up to 1000 fish in Barbate, Spain. They are fed 15 tonnes a day of sardines and mackerel.

The images from this shoot will be published in Unterwasser magazine, either late this year or early next year. The bluefin tuna remains classified as an “endangered species” by the IUCN, its population having declined by as much as 90% in some areas due to overfishing. A video from this shoot was selected as a featured clip by the Science Photo Library, and can be seen here.

Louise Murray is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer whose work has been published in the Guardian, the Times, and countless international magazines, books and popular science publication, and can be found at

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