These days it’s a rather grubby affair, thanks to the efforts of the so-called paparazzi who follow around so-called celebs and photograph them for a bunch of so-called lifetyle magazines. However, that’s the way of things because there’s money in z-listers – and where there’s brass, there is inevitably muck.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still any number of superb paps – those who meticulously plan and go to unbelievable, James Bond-style lengths to get the pics of proper A-list celebs that they don’t want the world to see. They spend years cultivating contacts with hotel staff, movie insiders and other helpful sorts, find themselves in weird and hard to reach places and basically dedicate all their guile, charm and experience to outwitting the publicity, security and personal staff of overpaid stars.
But I’m afriad their noble work (awright, that’s mibbes stretching it a bit) has been diluted by the proliferation of eejits with cameras who think it is perfectly acceptable to:
A) Stalk famous or semi-famous people relentlessly, then shout abuse at them to provoke a reaction and so get sneering/spitting/swearing/swedging pictures.
B) Cut mutually lucrative financial deals with z-listers who are desperately trying to claw their way up (or back up) the celeb ladder by staging pictures to show them in a fabourable light, then pass them off to an unsuspecting public as though they were taken without consent.
However, there is an oft-overlooked and forgotten area of photographic news work which altogether less glamorous and less well-paid – the good old-fashioned snatch picture.
This is usually reserved for the likes of criminals, conmen, bent business sorts, cheating public figures and anyone else who is in trouble, but doesn’t want the world to know.
This week two Deadline Press and Picture Agency staff were off on a wee jaunt into the Lothians in pursuit of once such suspect, armed only with a possible address to check out.
When they arrived at the destination they scoped the area and quickly realised the possibilities for a surreptitious snatch were remote. Which meant they’d have to blast the suspect and take their chances.
So while reporter Doug Walker knocked the door and tried to keep the occupant talking, photographer Stuart Cobley stood a safe distance away with his motorwind whirring.
While Doug quickly realised the man at the door wasn’t who he was looking for he did his best to keep him talking. But it quickly became apparent this particular chap had clocked the photographer – and worse yet, recognised him.
Ignoring the hapless distraction efforts of reporter Doug, he shouted out: “Is that you Stuart? What on earth are you up to?”
Rather excruciatingly for the Deadline pair, they were at the WRONG address and were actually trying to snatch highly-respected newspaper photographer Tony Marsh, who has worked for all the main papers. Indeed, he spent time at the Evening News, where he was actually Stuart’s BOSS. Oops.
Luckily for all concerned Tony is a top bloke (as well as a top snapper) and has been on enough snatches himself to know that sometimes you get the wrong information. So he saw the funny side. Or at least, he accpeted the explanations/apologies of the Deadline pair with as much grace as he could muster having just been roused from his scratcher and subjected to an unwanted photoshoot.
But I’m going to look on the bright side. Because the Deadline pair still showed professionalism and fulfilled the first rule of snatch photography – by getting a usable picture in the bag regardless of other circumstances.
And Tony, news photographer par excellence, got an unexpected view of life from the other end of the lens – as well as a funny story to tell his mates down the pub.
I suspect I will also owe him several beers for publishing this pic!