Kris Clarke has overcome adversity to enjoy a successful career after a chance introduction to photography and videography led to four booming media businesses.
Almost 20 years ago, Kris, then aged 16, was struck down by a meningitis scare.
When he came out of a coma, he was unable to walk due to the tissue damage caused to his legs and eventually lost fingers from both hands.
Now at 35, Winstanley man Kris provides media facilities for professional bodybuilders, runs a popular wedding photography business and holds lectures for all levels of photographers.
Kris operates from a small room which he converted into a fully-functioning media studio - right next door to lifelong friend and budding photographer David Craig’s studio.
DK Studios was the result, and is a collaboration of Kris and David’s studios, both of which specialise in different aspects of photography and film-work.
Reflecting on his illness as a schoolboy, Kris said he considered it a “lucky escape”.
He said: “I could have lost limbs, especially because there was bad scarring in my legs.
“I’m always thankful I didn’t lose the middle finger on my right hand, because without it I wouldn’t be able to push that button on the camera.”
Fortunately, after a month of being in hospital and going through rehabilitation, Kris found work in an electrical store in Newtown, selling DJ equipment, for which he later received an award for “Greatest Achievement in The Workplace”, presented by British Army veteran Simon Weston.
Kris was unable to sit any exams because of how the meningitis affected him, however Abraham Guest High School in Orrell where he studied, gave him eight years of employment which saw him go from a cover teacher to Director of the Academy Trust.
Whilst this was his day job, Kris could not ignore the love he had for his extra-curricular activities: photography and video.
Kris said: “It all started when someone I knew asked a favour of me to video a wedding, and I really enjoyed the process.
“From that I started a wedding video business and it was shortly after this that I was given a camera to take charge of.
“I never knew I had an eye for it, but through self-study and a desire to improve my photography, it all started falling into place.”
At first, Kris was invited to take photos for Abraham Guest.
However, before long, Kris was hosting after school photography classes for students, as well as developing e-learning content which became the method for teaching curriculum up and down the country.
With demand for Kris’s freelance work becoming more and more frequent, he made the difficult decision to give up his day job.
Four years on, Kris is now providing media services on a regional, national and international level.
DK Studios teaches people about photography, videography and editing through a combination of one-to-one sessions and group workshops.
Kris and David held similar classes for “The Music Projects”, a music college in Pemberton supporting their cause.
Following the success of these classes, Kris and David will soon be hosting their own version of photography classes through the DK Studios brand in the near future.
Kris said: “It is fantastic to be able to get back into a teacher role, and most importantly to inspire people to get into this.
“Wigan Youth Zone have also been in touch, and it was great helping the young people there.
“We got the guys and girls there involved in filming a documentary about how young people can save money.
“They were unemployed individuals, so this gave them some employability skills and looked good on the CV because it went up on YouTube.”
Kris’s wedding photography business operates through a Facebook page.
One photo Kris took of a bride at St Luke’s Church, Orrell, was uploaded to the page and received more than 11,000 likes.
Pump Media is the name given to Kris’s bodybuilding media business, which provides international show coverage, as well as individual profiles for individual bodybuilders at the top of their game.
One bodybuilder Kris has already photographed is the latest Mr Universe Lee Seung Chul.
A relatively new concept, Kris spoke about how the idea went from a disastrous first show to working with seven times Mr Olympia title winner Flex Lewis and American IFBB professional bodybuilder Phil Heath.
He said: “I have a background of working with guys in the fitness industry and so the first big show for Pump Media was the British finals last June.
“Each one of these events has 200 athletes, and I chose to put it out live as a 10 hour stream to people
“It was an absolute disaster. Technical issues meant that all these people who paid to watch it were getting lag and seeing repeats of footage.”
Five months on, and Kris’s Pump Media business has been approached by bodybuilding publication Muscular Development to bring professional bodybuilders into the Pemberton studio where it all started as guests on a new podcast.
Phil Heath and Flex Lewis are the big-hit names to be guests on the show, which debuts this week.
The podcasts will be available to purchase through iTunes and Google Play in the coming weeks.