No Snow Now

We’ve not had a real Winter for a few years now; no prolonged, hard frosts or heavy snow falls, but then I think snow fall has always been a bit special in England (unless you live north of the Watford Gap, in which case you probably spend most of your year digging your car out of 6ft drifts). That’s why when it does happen, everyone tweets about it and all transport grinds to a halt.

So when I got my first, ancient photographic portfolio down from the attic the other day, I was delighted to stumble across this snow picture which I must have taken circa 1988 when I was freelancing for The Bath Chronicle.

It must have been a slow news day when the flakes started to fall and I recall being sent out in rather un-promising conditions to go and get a photo to illustrate the “blizzard”.

The snow really was rather light, so I had a bit of a heavy heart, but as I made my way to Victoria Park in Bath, it started to get rather heavier. I recall this would have been mid-morning and the deadline for the last edition of the paper would have been imminent, bearing in mind I had to get back to the office, process and print my photos and get them to the subs desk before I missed the last deadline.

Thankfully, by the time I got to the park there was a decent covering. At least enough to show it had snowed, even if it wasn’t a white-out. I remember lifting my camera to frame the scene and being vaguely aware of the sound of a cyclist coming up behind me. I didn’t have time to look round, so just waited for them to pass into my frame, which is when I got this frame.

From memory I believe I took two or three more pictures in quick succession, but the first one was the best.

Happy that I had something I dashed back to the office and got the print to the desk on time.

Sadly I don’t have the cutting, so I can’t say which page it appeared on, but I do remember there was a letter from a reader a week later saying how much they enjoyed the photo. Bearing in mind they had to write and post a letter rather than just clicking a Like button and saying “wow” I was very pleased to have got some appreciation for the photo.

It’s not a super-dramatic weather photo, but I still like how I lined it all up and got lucky with the extra element of the cyclist. Even better that she was all wrapped up in black on a black bike, which just adds to the atmosphere of the scene.

Well now that Winter is over and we’re into spring, maybe I’ll get a good, contemporary monsoon-style downpour photo soon. Something for people to Like and say “wow”.

Have Camera, Will Travel

Each year I’ll find myself covering one or two long-distance photographic projects in multiple locations around England and Wales for clients who would rather book me and trust they’ll get consistent results than book a series of photographers with a mixture of styles and approaches and find the results are variable, and already this year I’ve popped over to Essex, Norfolk and up to the West Midlands for a client needing photos of care homes for the elderly.

Last year I travelled as far as Newcastle for a client needing images of scientific research, taking in Bristol, Warwick and Leeds on that particular tour. Throw in a few trips to London and that sums up a typical year’s jobs which are “off-patch.”

I quite enjoy traveling, seeing different places and meeting people from all over the country, but my first tour of this year became a bit of a challenge, especially when I found myself in a hotel just outside Birmingham, monitoring increasingly alarming weather forecasts foretelling of several inches of snow.

Police officer directs traffic in blizzard conditions in Bolton.

Still, I’d rather be a photographer than a policeman!

Indeed, it snowed so hard on the Thursday and Friday of that week that I had to book an extra night in my hotel because to try to travel home on the Friday night would have been folly. Drivers in Gloucester and Somerset were becoming trapped and I didn’t fancy joining them.

I had two sites to visit on the Friday, and while I managed to get to the morning one, it being a 10-minute walk down the road, I had to postpone the afternoon site until the following Monday, meaning yet another hotel booking and more miles to cover.

It’s all part of the job though. Even when the weather isn’t being a nuisance, logistics is part of the job of being a photographer; booking places to stay, making sure I set off in good time to make the appointments, adapting when things don’t go to plan, liaising with the client, and I have to say I get some satisfaction from the task of ultimately fulfilling the brief even when there are big challenges.

Ultimately, my job is to get the pictures the client needs with the minimum amount of fuss, and the pictures must fulfill the brief. They can’t be below-standard just because things don’t go smoothly, though last week’s exterior shots of the homes were a bit of a challenge, everything being carpeted in white. Still, it all looked very pretty.