|Me in my 20's|
God it makes me sound old.
The weekly newspaper was a great place to learn but I yearned for bigger and better things, so when I was 25 (I think?) I landed a job with the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph in Kettering.
Not exactly the big city but it suited me at the time.
The local papers were a fantastic place to learn about photography news but more than anything it taught me about people.
I made every kind of mistake you can make in a job without getting fired, god knows how I didn't.
My photography was variable to say the least and my people skills were.....well lets just say I was young and the editors phone rang a coupe of times with helpful and illuminating comments from members of the public after I had paid them a visit......
A great experience that I would not trade for anything.
Just don't ask me to go back.
The excitement of working in a town of 60,000 at the Northants ET began to wane after a while and I decided I wanted more.
I was lucky enough to work alongside some very talented photographers, John Robertson was notable amongst these in that we would 'compete' with one another to see who could get a photograph in the National Newspapers first.( Our contract with the local allowed us to do this, not because they welcomed the idea but because I don't think they thought any of us would actually do it..)
I seem to recall that John was the first of us to score a hit, he got a picture in 'The Guardian'
Not to be beaten I managed to get a photo or two in 'The Independent'
Here is one I have managed to dig out from 1988, where I went out with the British divers who were rescuing seal afflicted by a canine virus.
|I shot this with a Canon F1N with 200mm F2.8 on Ilford HP5 (I think??)|
But my moment of 'glory' came when I went to the Isle of Harris where my friend Steve McComb was working as a postman and I photographed him walking to deliver the post to the last village in the UK without a road during the Mail strike, I suppose you could call him a strike breaker but the only picket line was some black face sheep which didn't seem too bothered about pay, conditions or pensions.
The photo made 6 columns on the front page of 'The Independent'
I had arrived (or thought I had)
I now had the taste for travel, (to Scotland), and I was starting to live the dream.
Nothing was going to stop me now.
I heard that a new Sunday broadsheet quality newspaper 'The Sunday Correspondent' was going to opening, and I figured that it would benefit from my considerable local newspaper experience and that they should employ me...
So I waited until they had appointed a Picture Editor, in the shape of respected former Sunday Times picture editor Michael Cranmer.
I then subjected him to a bombardment of letters and phone calls until he gave me an interview.
Remarkably my sheer enthusiasm won him over and I was shortlisted for one of the contracts on the paper.
But like a minor team's magical FA cup run, the dream had to end and so it was that sanity prevailed and he gave the job to a much more established and respected name.
It was a blow but the last thing to do was to face up to defeat and reality.
So I decided I needed to photograph a war.
Whilst having a day job on the local newspaper.
The Khmer Rouge had been ousted by the Vietnamese, leaving a rather interesting situation of the bad guys (in the West's eyes at least) putting an end to mass genocide whilst they stood idly by.
I wanted to experience something amazing and tell the world about it.
So, I booked a three week holiday.
Got on a 23 hour Aeroflot flight to Bangkok, where in the process my fear of flying was replaced by an aversion of truly awful airline food.
Upon landing I checked into a hotel and I phoned the 'Sunday Correspondent' spoke to the picture desk and told them I was in South East Asia and I was available for work (I had told them I was going and they made encouraging noises but I don't think they thought I would actually go through with it)
'Erm Great......(Very long embarrassed pause) we will let you know if anything comes up'.
It was then I faced the true gravity of the situation.
I had sold my car to finance the trip, I was totally out of my depth, I had no plan, I was alone a long, long way from home and at this rate the money would run out in a few days.
What on earth was I going to do?
Find out in Part 2.