Just out of frame I know for a fact that my top button is done up, even though I’m not wearing a tie. Ye Gods but I was cool as a 15 year old.
19 years ago today, I got dressed in my smartest clothes and headed off to the Photographic Department of the Northants Evening Telegraph for 2 weeks work experience. Very rapidly something that had only been a hobby for a couple of years became a passion, and I quickly realised that here was something I could happily spend the rest of my life doing. And so I did.
At one and the same time it doesn’t seem like 19 years ago, and also feels like a lifetime when I compare the jaded, cynical man I am now with “Keen Tom”, as he was known. Back in 1993 at the E.T. we shot black and white film, developed it by hand, printed it by hand, and delivered those prints by hand to the news desk. The paper employed 6 full time photographers, as well as a couple of freelancers, and everyone had a company car and company camera gear. Although I’ve not been back in quite a while, something tells me that it’s not quite like that anymore.
It’s still a job that brings me huge satisfaction, adventure and some small measure of wealth, but I wonder where I will be in 19 more years time, and equally, where photography will be. Technical changes are unavoidable, and many doomsayers will happily prophesy that a few years from now we’ll all be technomorphed out of our jobs, but those same people said similar things 10 years ago when digital arrived on the scene, and we seem to have survived. I’m quietly confident that the core skills of being a professional photographer – creative vision, technical skill, managing teams well, interpreting briefs well and so on, will be just as effective as the technology evolves.
At least, that’s what I tell myself when I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.