In 1969 I had been working on Fleet Street for almost three years, mostly for (United Press International). UPI had offices in a narrow building at 8 Bouverie Street, immediately opposite the News of The World. One Saturday afternoon after filing pictures from an assignment, I was leaving the office, when I saw a flash car, double-parked in the narrow street. At the wheel, was Anna Murdoch. I knew Anna from our time working together on The Australian in Canberra in 1966 when she was still Anna Torv, and as the gossip went, Rupert’s mistress.
I stopped to say, hello. When down the steps of the NoW strolled Rupert, tucking the very first edition of his new acquisition (and perhaps here I could be excused for using the cliché, hot off the press) under his arm. Anna said to him, “You remember Rob, don’t you, Rupert?” We shook hands. He said, “Yes, I do..you’ve changed your beard or something, haven’t you?” Actually, I had been clean-shaven when I worked for him in Canberra. Knowing his reputed visceral hatred of facial hair and ever the smart-arse I replied, “Yes…actually, I’ve grown one.”
Though I was carrying a loaded Nikon, I was just not clever enough to think to take a picture of him. I imagine a shot of Rupert with his very first copy of The News of the World might have been a very good seller this week…
While in Perth a couple of weeks ago, I had the dubious pleasure of being on the other side of the camera when I was photographed by Nic Ellis, a photojournalist with the West Australian newspaper. He had generously organised a foundry for me to shoot in for my long-term project, This Working Life and had also deemed my project newsworthy enough for the paper.
For a photojournalist, being photographed from time-to-time is probably good for the soul, a pin-prick to the balloon of our vanity and certainly good for understanding of what we often put our subjects through. Now I’ll do anything to help a fellow PJ get the picture they want, but I found this particular instance especially uncomfortable.
This was nothing to do with Nic. He is a sensitive and highly skilled shooter. It was more to do with the particular subject matter we were dealing with. It was hot in that foundry. After all they were melting steel. To get the particular effect he wanted meant placing me very close to several furnaces. The peculiarly pained expression on my face is just that: pain. I was waiting for my shirt to start smouldering and smoke to curl around my head.
Portrait by Nic Ellis © West Australian Newspapers 2011
Don’t get me wrong, Nic. I’m not complaining. It really was a great experience being photographed by you and it added to my fund of anecdotes from this trip to Western Australia. That foundry also provided be with some fine pictures for my project. Thank you, and I hope to return the favour when I come back in September. Maybe you could pose for me up to your neck in freezing water at an oyster farm, or something like that?
For the full story in the West Australian go here.
Filed under art, Australia, Australian, Autobiography, Digital photography, documentary photography, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, portraits, Rob Walls
This morning, I spent a very profitable hour looking at this multimedia coverage of women in Afghanistan by the Toronto Globe and Mail. The story Behind the Veil – an intimate journey into the lives of Kandahar’s women by staff reporter Jessica Leeder and freelance photojournalist, Paula Lerner, is an outstanding example of the use of new media.
For me this is the finest combination of reporting, photojournalism and video used in coverage of a single subject, I’ve yet seen. If this is not the future of photojournalism, it comes very damned close.
Take the time to to shut out distractions and work your way through this report. It’s fully worth the effort…