Friday, 17 July 2009

And the Winner is...

Anybody who knows me well know’s I’m just a big kid at heart… and I like “big boys toys”… indeed whilst writing this I’ve had one eye on Colt Trickle and his "Days of Thunder"… I could sit and watch the opening sequence of Top Gun all day… cheesy, but Ridley Scott did it best and he was first…

So of course I saw a “tank cleaner” by the side of the motorway one afternoon, the water and steam backlit by the setting sun and I could here that soundtrack… O. Winston Link would have felt right at home with the scene… just wished I wasn’t in the outside lane headed somewhere else…

So a year later, we are standing in the transport yard of another large tanker fleet, myself and my assistant, fluorescent vests our “body armour” against the shiny, smoke breathing monsters of the road…

“Our tanker” pulls into the tank cleaner, the driver jumps out but the engine is still running…

” because we never stop the engine, the trucks only here for 15 minutes so we can clean the tank and change drivers!”

And the world stopped, like I’d dropped through the shiny surface of my well laid plans into the ice cold reality… Oh my mother wouldn’t have liked the words I used…

So my mental plan to light the whole scene with mono heads went out the window… more like crashed through the window like a movie bar brawl gone wrong…

Where to go but into the depth of my memory, back to a day long ago and a lecturer waving a hot light around in the grand rooms of a stately house… using a small light source… and to a hotel boiler room and Len Dance, a small very dapper East End London boy and his hand held Metz flashguns…

That’s the joy of the digital world we live in now, what was once too costly to contemplate is now possible, so to contemplate not doing it is not an option…

So we lit this shot with one Metz on a VAL… voice activated light stand… an acronym invented by others for a frantic photographer and a verbally abused assistant controlled through a mixture of shouted commands and frantic hand waving to direct the light onto parts of the image as each “plate” was shot separately to be comped together later. I can even remember staring at the little 1.5” wide screen on the camera and watching each frame appear… good grief that was only 3 years ago and my phone now has a bigger screen!

But on a night in the Newcastle Hilton Hotel Claire and I took our seats at a front row table of the British Professional Photographers Awards… but I don’t do subtle hints… ask Claire!

And the winner is, "local photographer"… so I find myself standing on the stage, certificate and winners paperweight in hand, but talking to the compare Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet… too surprised to look at the 300 people applauding my back !

At the table next to me… Len Dance… had to tell him he was responsible for my success… I can still remember his demonstration 15 years later… just wish I’d remembered to bring the milk home today!

Do we do this thing we do for awards… I for one would never sleep… do we do it for the recognition… or do we do it for that little voice in our heads which screams “this is the shot, you saw this before, SHOOT IT!”

But as I stood on the hotel balcony, looking at the Quayside lights and the paperweight in my hand I had to phone my parents and tell them there boy was “Commercial Photographer of the Year”…



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