Anyone for Polo ?

I was covering The opening of The Field of Remembrance (the crosses with poppies laid every year by The British Legion) at Westminster Abbey, which this year was by Prince Harry, when I first heard about his trip to Oman and Dubai.The Telegraph’s Royal correspondent Gordon Rayner was down to go and I explained how happy I’d be to accompany him. A few forms later and I was on the list to go. Not a big list but a very manageable one for the Palace press office. John Stillwell from the Press Association, Chris Jackson from Getty, Time Rooke for Rex Features and Darren Fletcher from The Sun.
Harry was arriving on Tuesday night and I got there Tuesday morning having flown through the night. The arrival was pooled , covered by Tim and Chris but Darren and I still turned up at the rather plush hotel just in case we were allowed to crash the pool. We weren’t so we retired to the bar for a beer then met up with the others to travel back by minibus to the hotel we were staying in. It was “National Day” in Oman and the traffic was horrendous. All the locals seemed to be out in there cars wearing masks and hooting and beeping their way around Muscat. We ended up having to walk the last few hundred yards to our hotel which gave us the chance to take a few frames of the festivities. Everyone seemed really friendly, they were having a great time, though a few had had their exhausts adjusted to make a sound that was very similar to gunfire, which did throw one particular reporter to the floor of the bus when we heard it for the first time.

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The following morning was a 6am start for the minibus journey to Nizwa Fort. Charles and Camilla visited earlier this year and took part in some local tribal dancing involving swords so obviously we were crossing fingers for a repeat royal performance.

We retired for several coffees whilst we awaited Harry’s arrival and took the opportunity to take some pictures of some of the children and some of the locals who were waiting to meet the Prince.

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I did a combination of pictures on my iPhone 5S and my normal Nikon work cameras (D4S D3S and D3)

The picture of the man with the walking stick was then put through ‘Snapseed’ and ‘Instagram’…the version that looks warmer was not. I do like to use my iPhone for work pictures but I’d never have the guts to shoot an entire assignment on one….unless of course I was asked to.

A lot of photographers complain that filter Apps like ‘Snapseed’ and ‘Instagram’ make everyone capable of producing “great” photographs. I tend to disagree. If you haven’t got the right image there’s nothing an App can do for you. So far Apps can’t find a picture for you, yeah they can polish a turd but it’s still going to be a turd.

Apps are tools as is the camera on your iPhone. You still need to know how to use the tool to get the most out of it.

Anyway, Harry played ball. Not once but twice. He had a go on the sword then went for a tour , then had another go on the sword. Our local Omani embassy chap did a brilliant job of positioning the dancers in front of Harry twice. We all got what was required.

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The next day was going to be a long one. Harry was visiting The Grand Mosque in Muscat first thing then we were flying to Dubai followed by a bus-ride to Ghantoot Polo ground, Abu Dhabi, for Harry’s ‘Sentebale’ charity match. We were told all sorts of celebrities would be attending..in the end it was only Geri Halliwell and her new fiance that anybody recognised.

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We went home and Harry stayed to watch the Grand Prix…a few people cynically commented that that was in fact the reason for the visit.

Anyone for a pre-Christmas shopping trip to New York ?

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Who has what’s required ?

Here’s what the late, great Sir David English, who created the modern Daily Mail, had to say about newspaper photographers. (thanks to Dave Parker)

” Press photographers are a strange breed. Moody, enthusiastic, temperamental, excitable, humorous, self-deprecating . They are in many ways the most interesting collection of people to be found on any national newspaper. More interesting frequently than the star bylined writers. More interesting than the gossip columnists with their fund of inside chatter. More interesting even than the showbiz kings with their stories of rubbing shoulders with the great and their `all life´s a cocktail party´ philosophy. Photographers are the shock troops of journalism. They cannot muse. They cannot pontificate. They cannot sit in the office and get their stories by telephone. Nor do they pick up their scoops over lunch. They have to be where the action is. They have to be there! ”

And here’s what Roy Greenslade Professor (no less) of journalism had to say about newspaper photographers.

“Everyone can, and does, take photographs as a matter of rote nowadays.No event occurs – fires, fetes, road accidents, cats up trees, whatever – without someone being on hand to snap a picture. In the real sense of the word, newspaper photographers are therefore redundant.

I concede that standing outside court for ages to capture an image of a defendant or witness may still require a professional (enter the experienced freelance). Otherwise, for the general run of the news diary, anyone can do it.”

I think we all know who has/had the better understanding of the qualities required to do the job .

The idea that because almost everyone has a camera and takes pictures means you no longer need photographers has a logical conclusion. Almost everyone can write and has a pen.

Newspapers are always on the look out to cut costs… to make a few more quid for the shareholders. I mean you wouldn’t expect them to have last year’s reg car would you. But no business will ever profit by making cuts. That’s short-termism. You have to speculate and invest to accumulate. That’s not just my opinion. Ask billionaire Warren Buffet. Stupid managements make stupid cuts which affect their product the newspaper. The product suffers and the advertisers leave in droves driving profit further down. Stupid management then implement more cuts to increase the dividend which affects the product and the advertisers leave in droves driving profit down further. It’s a cycle of stupidity.

The demand for visuals is higher than it has ever been. More photographs and videos are used than ever before. Newspaper websites need photographs, 360’s, time-lapses, videos, slideshows….these are the things that attract an audience and advertisers.

So who are the best people to deliver these things. Easy answer really. It’s not the columnists.

It’s us. The photographers.