Same, same – but different

February 18, 2008

It may have been a tough week for Paul MacCartney and Heather Mills,  enduring their divorce hearing at the High Court in London, but it was a tough one too for the photographers assigned to cover the case. 

It was tough for two reasons. First, because McCartney and Mills  drove into the court car park, giving the
photographers only seconds to pick them out as they walked between vehicle and court entrance. The second reason was the pressure on the photographers, faced with almost identical scenarios on each day of the hearing, to shoot a varied file of photographs.

However, although the photographers  had a difficult job they could be forgiven for feeling a touch of sympathy for the reporters assigned to cover the proceedings. The judge hearing the case, behind closed doors, gave strict instructions to McCartney, Mills and the assembled legal teams, not to leak any details of the case to the media. This meant that the reporters had virtually nothing to report on, except the expression and demeanour of  both McCartney and Mills. The only way they could study the expressions was from the photographs.

It therefore fell to the photographers to capture day-to-day differences in expressions and body language outside the court, thus telling the story, as far as it could possibly be told under the circumstances.

The week started well. The photographers knew that there was a chance that they would see nothing at all. But McCartney and Mills drove into a part of the car park that was visible from the pavement, knowing they were in full view of the assembled media.

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Stephen Hird’s photograph of Heather Mills arriving on day one (above centre), and Kieran Doherty’s photographs of Paul McCartney leaving the court, certainly gave the reporters something to write about. More importantly, at the end of the first day we had photographs that at the beginning of the day we doubted would be seen at all.

Day two, and the expressions and body language told a different story from the day before. McCartney, Mills and the photographers had quickly found their stride – the photographers knew which entrance to stand at, and McCartney and Mills seemed to understand that their demeanour could influence public opinion, and attempted to appear cool in front of the cameras.

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By day three it was clear that photographs of McCartney and Mills were not going to be in short supply, and it was time to look for something more interesting. But first, of course, there was no excuse for not shooting the, by now, routine arrival pictures.

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But then the photographers found time to experiment, as the following images show. The equivalent of a cyclist standing on the saddle on one leg and shouting out ‘Look no hands.’

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On day four there was nothing left to prove, except to make it all look so easy, with some elegant and solid pictures.

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Day five at last,  and the photographs continued to flow as the daily events had become established as a ritual.

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At the beginning of the week there was no certaintly that the pair would be seen at all, and by the end we all wondered why we had ever doubted it.

However, before we happily pat each other on the back – the hearing is set to continue…

All photographs by Dylan Martinez and Kieran Doherty, unless otherwise credited.


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