This is my attempt at a regular report on the ups and downs of Press Photography in London. I think it’ll be on a weekly(ish) basis but we’ll see how it pans out.
My week started early, Sunday to be precise, with a visit to the O2 for the first two songs by ‘The Rolling Stones’. As a couple of the other Photographers there pointed out I’m not a regular ‘gig’ photographer but The first night of ‘The Stones’ in their 50th year was a sure fire cross over into the news pages. ‘Snapperweb’ (a Facebook group for Press Photographers) has been busy this year with photo release contracts from various bands which have been demanding joint copyright, total copyright and all number of restrictions which Photographers have to sign up to before they are allowed in to shoot. The idea is that the bands keep the lucrative merchandising side of the industry to themselves by preventing Photographers from syndicating their work for poster and t-shirt use. Fair enough some might say, but when yesteryear bands like ‘The Waterboys’ demand total copyright then something somewhere is going wrong. I don’t sign my copyright away to anyone so it was with some trepidation that I clicked on the pdf containing the bands demands. Possibly the biggest Rock ‘n’ Roll band on the planet and the only restriction was that the pictures could only be used and syndicated for editorial use, fair as you can get.
We were told initially that we would be shooting from a mixing desk 40m away from the stage and to ‘bring an appropriate lens’. At this distance it would be a 600mm for a full-length. On arrival we were told we’d been upgraded to the ‘mosh-pit’ but had to stand at the back but it was now only about 10m. I decided to take the 600mm in anyway ( being too lazy to walk back to the car) and I’m glad I did because it produced the best pix balanced precariously on my Pelican case. It was a bit hectic, we only had the first two songs before we were kicked out and apart from the tight stuff I needed a wide, full lengths and some kind of group shot. The time went very quickly and then we were out. Outside somebody approached us and asked what two songs they’d done, I had no idea whatsoever. Most of us camped down at Starbucks and started editing. I sent three pix then checked they’d landed . By the final edit I’d sent 20, here are some of the ones I liked and the Daily Telegraph front page with my Mick on..
Monday was a quiet one. When you’re unassigned you just ring in to the Picture Desk in the morning and remind them you are free. It really was deadly quiet, so much so that it was lunchtime before I got a call back with a request from our lovely Features desk with a request to shoot a case study about property sales in Battersea. It sounds great having the morning off like that but it’s not like you can do anything. You just wait for a call, talk to your mates to see if you can find something going on that might be worth suggesting. It’s dead time. The job was straight forward a woman inside and outside the house she was selling. Not too much grief apart from hubby refusing to be in the pix. It’s bread and butter work, the stuff that agencies can’t do . It’s the stuff that keeps us Newspaper guys employed so that they can wheel us out for the occasional news job. Straightforward but you still have to put some effort in. A bit boring but here are a few frames to show I was working on that Monday.
Tuesday was a bit of a change to the normal routine. I’d booked it off along with Peter Macdiarmid of Getty Images to do some PR work for The British Press Photographer’s Association (BPPA). We were on a mission to win some influential friends prior to The Leveson Report due out on Thursday. The previous week’s AGM had suggested that we make a list of possible influential media commentators that might be speaking about the outcome of Leveson and deliver them a copy of The BPPA’s best selling book ‘5000 Days’ with a covering letter reminding them of contacts for interviews with us and a summary of where we stood . Pete and I met up and addressed a load of envelopes then spent the day driving around London dropping off at various Newspapers, TV studios and Radio stations. I didn’t think that we’d be very high on the agenda when the report came out. I guessed there would be lots of other stuff to plow through for reporters before they bothered with the possible implications for photographers. Still, it was a good excuse to deliver a book that is a masterclass in British Press Photography to some important people.
Wednesday was looking good. I’d been assigned to do a portrait of one of my heroes from this summer Mo Farah. You always get a bit nervous meeting someone that you’ve elevated to this kind of status. The main worry is that they will turn out to be a complete knob and sour your memories. Needless to say It wasn’t so with Mo. He really is genuinely one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and photographed. No pretensions just a top bloke. The stuff that celebrities should be made of. He actually achieved something fantastic.He didn’t just live in a house for three weeks and shout at people. A proper Superstar. The sort of role model all kids should have. Paul Hayward from telegraph Sports was doing the interview and told him that a coach at his local sports club in Brighton had said that membership had gone up by 70% since the Olympics and that nearly all of them said it was because of Mo. He was visibly chuffed.
I trundled back into town after Mo to meet up with John Toker, Press liaison for The Leveson Inquiry. The Picture Desk had been informed by The Newspaper Publishers Association that there was to be a recce at the QE2 Centre Westminster to organise a photocall of Lord Leveson with his report and the accompanying statement. Most of the agencies were represented and I was there for the newspapers.The initial idea was to have two photographers, 1 newspaper,1 wire agency to do the picture of Leveson holding up his report. Then some of the 11 papers and agencies would be in the hall for the statement. It was obvious that the report shot was the important picture whilst the talking head was needed but definitely the secondary photo. After a small amount of negotiating we managed to secure all 11 in the room for the report pic with 2 going into the hall for the statement but in an improved position (300mm) . They had originally wanted about 4 in the hall , all at the back (600mm) and 2 for the report picture. A total of 6 positions. we left with 14 positions agreed . I was off the next day so the shooting would be in the capable hands of Mr Geoff Pugh. Hope it worked out okay .
That was it for this week. Childcare and visiting relatives in hospital took up the rest of the week. The only other pix I did were on my phone so I’ll round up with some of those ( just to annoy Mr Pohle of The Times).