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!
The entry of Getty Images and Corbis (100% owned by Bill Gates) into the photography business in the mid-90s set us on a fairly inevitable course of a trade sale. Getting venture capital and angel finance on board at the end of the 1990s also dictated this route. It was a testing process. From 1997 […]
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 […]
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 […]
In the late 1980s, there was a transformation in the world of national newspapers. New titles, such as The Independent and Today came in to the market – and Rupert Murdoch fought the battle of Wapping to help rid the industry of some terrible, union backed practices (see “On the Wire – how many men […]
In 1992, I was approached by Peter Robinson, FIFA’s Official Photographer for many years – and a personal friend. He had been asked to find a photographer to work with UEFA and TEAM Marketing on their new concept of the UEFA Champions League. He felt as FIFA’s photographer, he could not get involved – and […]