Raised on Clydebank, Ian moved to Newcastle upon Tyne in 1963 where he took a design course at Newcastle College of Art and Industrial Design before embarking on a career as a graphic designer.
A few years later, he bought a second-hand camera and caught the photography buzz. Within months, he started earning a living with a camera before landing a job as in-house photographer to the Tyneside Theatre Company at the University Theatre in Newcastle. This led to a chance meeting in early 1972 with the City Hall manager Bob Brown ((then the north-east's major rock venue) and an open invitation to photograph the many acts..
Discovering how much fun and money there was in rock 'n roll, Ian hitched a lift to London on Roxy Music's tour bus in early 1973 and set about establishing himself. He joined forces with the writer Andrew Tyler at the NME for a couple of years before a short-lived stint with National Rockstar eventually led to an appointment with Sounds, just in time for the punk explosion (chronicled in his book "Flash Bang Wallop!" / Abstract Publishing 2000).