When a dignitary leaves home for a foreign trip, Reuters and other major news organisations make an editorial and logistical decision on whether to send a staff photographer or rely on local cover.
As we don’t have a local Jamaican photographer, I was dispatched from Washington to join the seven London-based photographers working for various newspapers, agencies and freelance organisations covering the recent visit to the Caribbean by Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Whether coming from London or elsewhere, our respective companies commit time, effort and money to get us into position for the royal tour. Having traveled all that way it usually boils down to a few precious seconds when the memorable images that define the whole assignment flash before your eyes and you have to be in place to capture them. Easier said than done when you have to decide what NOT to shoot!
The decision to cover one photo opportunity at the expense of another, simply because a tight schedule doesn’t allow time for transport between both, means that careful forethought, the ability to visualize how an event is going to play out, and a fair measure of luck is vital. A simple miscalculation can result in missing the best pictures and wreck your day.
Sometimes the obvious has to be covered, and some photographers traveled to the dockside to photograph the royal couple arriving in Jamaica. It was a guaranteed picture, and as the old saying goes, ‘one in the hand is worth two in the bush.’ But I took a gamble to miss the dockside picture because it promised to be dull, instead choosing what I hoped would be a colourful visit to the home of the late Jamaican musician Bob Marley. There was no guarantee of what we would be able to shoot, but I thought ‘What says “Prince Charles in Jamaica” more than being surrounded by Rastafarians playing the drums?’ and kept my fingers firmly crossed.