My first real trip was trying to hitch-hike from Toronto to Vancouver in the summer of 1972. I set off with $40 in my pocket, got distracted half way and followed an American girl home to Iowa. Her father was unimpressed and following a late night debate involving God, capitalism, Vietnam and a bottle of Jack Daniel's he ended up pulling a gun on me in the middle of a cornfield. I probably deserved it. Nonetheless, I decided that Iowa was not for me and headed back east. Got a lift on the back of a Harley through Chicago and wound up sleeping rough under a bridge somewhere in Detroit. Walked into Canada the next day and spent my last fifty cents on a tin of tuna fish. I was 16 years old. It was a bit like Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing, but without the horses and bloodshed. Pictures came later, as a way to see the world with a better budget.

I studied photography at Ryerson in Toronto and relocated to the UK in the late 70s. I have been based in London ever since, working for a wide range of editorial, corporate and advertising clients. My remit as a travel photographer is to record ordinary life in a way that is visually compelling. The raw materials are light, colour, graphic impact and a sympathetic rendering of the world. I tend towards uncluttered, unambiguous compositions and try to create images that speak for themselves; the less captioning and explanation required, the better...

I speak French and Italian (badly), support Arsenal FC (for my sins) and have published several works of children's fiction.

The Drunken Boat is the name of a poem by the 17-year-old Arthur Rimbaud. In 1871 he had scarcely ventured out of provincial France. Much less than a 1000 words, it is worth more pictures than anyone could count.

david sutherland