Last week I delivered a lecture to the Cambridge University photographic society, where I charted my photographic career to date
On the afternoon of Saturday 25th June 1999 I was driving from Pristina in Kosovo to Skopje in Macedonia, heading for home
Journalist David Harrison and I were on assignment for the Sunday Telegraph covering the NATO KFOR ‘invasion’ of Kosovo
It had been a long and difficult assignment , at times harrowing too, witnessing some of the results of ethnic cleansing and the suffering of the population
We came across one of the many military traffic jams which were a familiar sight.
Stopping, we got out of the car to see what the hold up was.
We found a small team of lightly armed British army medics engaged in a life or death struggle to revive a Kosovan civilian who had been shot
It was a very hot day, and the medics were giving mouth to mouth resuscitation to the victim by the dusty roadside.
I started to take pictures and initially faced a somewhat hostile response from some members of the team who did not want me to photograph this amazing struggle for the mans life
I politely pointed out that I worked for the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ and that I was just showing the British public what a brilliant and selfless job they were doing.
I agreed to keep my distance and they allowed me to continue my work
Seconds later we came under automatic fire.We all dived for cover under the Landrovers
When anybody raised their head to see where the gunfire was coming from it was rewarded with a volley of bullets
I had one roll of film and 2 lenses with my Canon EOS 1, to try to retrieve more film from the hire car would have been sheer stupidity
So, I had to document the whole incident on 1 roll of film
A real challenge, to make every shot count
The rest of the convoy had been held back at a safe distance, behind the cover of a petrol station
Two soldiers ran from the relative safety of the held up convoy to join us
They were shot at as they ran.
I found my self willing them to make it as they ran for their lives
I managed to make one really great shot, where you can see the fear and tension of the soldier who is running for his life
Soon an ambulance arrived, the male and female medics risked their lives with weapons drawn to evacuate the man
Eventually the more soldiers arrived and located the source of the gunfire.
It was thought to be one man
With outstanding professionalism they did not shoot him, they arrested the suspect
The whole incident lasted for about an hour
A number of medals were awarded for bravery in this incident
Apparently the most in a single action of the whole campaign
David and I were the only journalists to witness the drama
It was ‘our’ exclusive
What is more we had plenty of time to file the copy and images
We raced back to Pristina, David wrote his dramatic account while I processed my film in a cupboard
We filed on time
And waited for a response from the desk
‘Good stuff ‘ they said
And then silence
Surely the front page? If not, page 3 with a whole spread of images?
Sadly it was to be neither of these
The ‘Sunday Telegraph’ chose not to run a single image
Well, it turns out that the only page available was the front
And it could not run there as Rupert Murdoch was getting married, and they wanted to run that image instead
We had risked a great deal to document this remarkable incident
At this point I asked myself why I was doing the job.
Low pay, high risk and then the photos do not see the light of day
Nearly 10 years later
Here they are in their entirety