It’s a wonderful life
Photographers moan: boy do they moan! Indeed a regular conversation between myself and colleagues whilst chewing the fat on another wet dark doorstep around Downing Street in London is what the most appropriate term for a collective of news/sports photographers should be. And a ‘moan’ or ‘grumble’ is often the most popular choice as a tongue-in-cheek metaphor for the ‘pack’.
We complain about our cameras, our laptops, our internet connections, our computer software, our hours of work, our assignments. We complain about our pay, politicians, press officers, security, traffic, our bosses, our colleagues, our allotted photo positions, and backgrounds in pictures. And we complain about the weather – the stereotype about Brits really is true! Too sunny, too wet, too bright, too dark, too windy, not windy enough…any excuse for a picture that was ALMOST there, but not quite…
However, whilst always somehow feeling relatively new to the job (not sure why, as I ‘officially’ started my career fifteen years ago at the not-so-tender age of 23 in regional newspapers in Bristol in southwest England, certain that I was following the right path after ‘dropping-out’ as a university undergraduate), rarely does a day pass when at some point do I think I am still in the best career in the world.
Where else can you access and shoot the best sporting events in the world? Where else can you get an insight to government machinations and cover the biggest political changes and upheavals in the world, shoot seismic shifts in the environment and similar seismic shifts in the global economic infrastructure? How many other careers allow access into an operating theatre to photograph emergency heart surgery on a child one day and on the next to dealers manically flailing arms on a City trading room floor, whilst also being able to get to go and shoot an athlete pushing human physical limits to the extreme in an Olympic final in Sydney, Athens, Beijing – and maybe a run–down area of the East End of London next?!
So next time I hear a photographer grumble about shooting yet another sign of a bank or brand logo suffering in this financial downturn, I will thank someone that it isn’t me working for that company going bust. I will thank someone that I am not cooped up in an office all day long. And I will be happy being the proverbial ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ wire-agency photo-journalist. I will remind myself of the far more hostile environments of war, conflict, disease and environmental catastrophe that some of my colleagues have to operate in to get a great picture in ‘their patch’. I’m not sure if the job has made me any wiser, but nevertheless I will thank someone that I am privileged to be paid to be seeing and reporting on small vignettes and episodes of what goes on around us every day…
To view a portfolio of Toby’s work click here