It was one of the most enjoyable times of my life. Working within a community, making connections, then gradually gaining trust and respect is a rewarding process.
The job had fantastic variety. One day’s work might involve photographing royalty, attending a village fete and/or standing on a miner’s picket line. It was also in the days when the local evening newspaper was the trusted (and often only) source of national and local information for the community.
I was fortunate enough during my time at the Mercury to be given the privilege of being the Royal Rota photographer for two visits of The Queen and one by Princess Diana. I also watched at first hand the sad destruction of the mining industry in Leicester as the Miner’s strike petered out. There were many early mornings spent by the warming brassiers of Miners and Policemen outside collieries.
There was also a great “menu” of local sport. I spent many Saturdays photographing the Leicester City team (including in those days Alan Smith and Gary Lineker) – as well as travelling to London to photograph the England rugby team which was dominated in those amateur days by Leicester Tigers players such as Peter Wheeler, Dusty Hare, Clive Woodward, Rory Underwood, Nick Youngs and Les Cusworth.
Leicestershire also had a rich seam of tradition – and the assignment list included photographing fox hunting and traditional English village “escapades” such as the Hallaton Bottle Kicking (inter-village punch up) and Atherstone Shrove Tuesday Football (anything goes football – with a punch up).
We had Nigel Lawson, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, as a local Member of Parliament. He was always very helpful to the Mercury – and when I suggested a pre-budget shot with his son, Tom, at the local fish and chip shop, he readily posed. As you can see from the picture – in those days you could get a chip butty for only 17p. Ah, those were the days!
In 1981, I started my first job after school as a Trainee Press Photographer at Mercury Press Agency in Liverpool. I’d not bargained for my first week in employment to involve the coverage of some of the worst rioting on mainland Britain. I’ll always remember the phone ringing late at night after the family had […]
One of the best trips of my life was to to photograph the return to international sport of South Africa, after the end of apartheid and the release of Nelson Mandela. I accompanied the team to India – and the experience was unforgettable. We arrived late at night in Calcutta. We had a long time […]
The sale of EMPICS and our departure from the business coincided with a move to a new village. Knipton is at the centre of the Belvoir Estate – an area of 16,000 acres owned but the Duke of Rutland. The rural idyll is nice – but with so much private land, there are limited public […]
I first heard the term “funemployment” back in 2009. There was an article in the LA Times that summed up the “situation” I was in after selling my business, EMPICS. It had been a challenge to give an answer when, in your 40s, and people ask politely what you do – or forms arrive that […]
In 1985, I was a 22-year-old press photographer in a well-paid and rewarding job at the Leicester Mercury. I had excellent colleagues – and a very comfortable life. However, it was not enough for me – and I wanted to work for National Newspapers and create my own business. So I set out to create […]