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 […]
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 […]
In the late 1990s, there was pressure within the sports photo industry from sports rights holders (the likes of the FA Premier League, the IOC and individual football clubs). These rights holders could not see the value of photography agencies and individual photographers being given free and unrestricted access to sports events. Rights holders got […]
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 […]
In the autumn of 1994, I decided to “hang up my cameras”. EMPICS was growing as a business – and it needed me at base. I’d tried to bring in senior managers to take on my role – but that was not successful (probably my fault rather than theirs). I also felt it was time […]