Richard Austin - Freelance news and sports photographer

18.08.05

Up at 6.30am to check the regional television news. The lead story
is about diabetics and heart disease. The next big story is the A-level
results. Yesterday I talked to the headmaster of Colyton Grammar School
in East Devon. This turned out to be a good move, as his students had
some of the best grades in the country. At 8.30am I arrive and wait for
the kids to show up and open their envelopes at 9am. A-level results
always make great pictures. A range of emotions flow from the students
– mostly from the girls.

At 10.30am, from my office in West Dorset, I wire 15 pictures to the national papers and the Western Morning News.

Next
is a Western Morning News picture order – 1.30pm in Honiton and the
arrival of actor Alex Price as Lt Lapenotiere, the navy officer who
took the news to London from Falmouth of victory at the Battle of
Trafalgar and the death of Lord Nelson. This is the latest leg in a
post-chaise journey to London being re-enacted to mark its 200th
anniversary.

Last
picture of the day is a two-hour drive away as part of the Western
Morning News good beach guide series. The beach – Mill Bay near
Salcombe in Devon – is stunning.

Home at 8.35 pm.

19.08.05

I feel uneasy when I have lots to think about other than where my
next news picture is coming from. I have 100 captions to write by
Monday for my animal book, Dogs & Puppies, and a VAT return due.
I’ve also agreed to take part in a TV production in which 10
photographers take a student masterclass in various subjects. The
paperwork, including running orders and so on, is building up and needs
reading.

First job is for the Western Morning News, photographing the
building site of a new school in Exeter. From there I find another
sandy beach near Teignmouth in Devon for the good beach guide.

Then
I have to rendezvous with the post-chaise in Axminster. The Daily Mail,
still interested in A-levels, calls and orders a picture of the
headmaster of Colyton Grammar School which, luckily for me, is only 10
minutes away. I manage to drive back to my office at home to wire the
pictures and grab enough time to eat (very rare) before photographing a
rugby match at Exeter Chiefs. Home 10pm.

20.08.05

Like most Saturdays, the whole day is taken up with football.

For the past four years I have covered Plymouth Argyle for the Western Morning News and today we’re at Crystal Palace.

The
last time I worked at Selhurst Park was nine years ago and not much has
changed. I collect my photographer’s pass from the Portacabin in the
car park and I’m directed through the players’ entrance by a young
steward who, I think, is just guessing where to send me. Eventually I
arrive at the top of the building and go through a door with a sign
that reads PRESS. There I meet Selhurst’s very own Captain Mainwaring,
who shouts: “Sorry, press only in here.”

I stand in front of this elderly official with cameras and telephoto lenses hanging from my shoulders, and say: “I am press.”

“No you’re not,” he replies. “Your lot are down on the pitch. This room’s for proper press only.”

“I am proper press,” I say. “I’ve got an NUJ press card and I’m a member of the BPPA.”

“Sorry, you’re not allowed in here. You’ll have to leave.”

“Any chance of a cup of tea while I’m here?”

“Out,” he says, and there’s not a word of support for me from the hacks. The match ends in a 1-0 win for Palace.

Home 9.45pm.

21.08.05

Sunday morning and a hint of a hangover… I had a few too many beers
last night. First job for the Western Morning News is to meet up with
the now familiar Lt Lapenotiere in Bridport, Dorset.

Next for the WMN, I drive to Powderham Castle near Exeter where
there is a heavy horse gathering, demonstrating how shirehorses were
once the Massey Ferguson tractors of the agriculture industry. I get
good, nostalgic pictures, and the assignment makes the front page and a
picture inside.

22.08.05

It’s Monday morning and not much is happening, so I get stuck into the captioning. The deadline is today.

In the afternoon, in Portland, Dorset, yet again I have to photograph actor Alex Price and the post-chaise.

In
the evening I have a private commission to photograph a Devon farmer’s
livestock. I take my wife and plan an evening meal in a pub, but the
WMN rings with a job in Gittisham, Devon. By the time I’ve wired the
pictures, it’s around 9pm – so we have fish and chips from our local
chippy.

23.08.05

For the last time I have to meet the post-chaise, this time on
Weymouth seafront. It’s beautiful weather, scorching hot. I feel sorry
for the sailors in uniform, stood to attention waiting for the horse
and carriage to arrive.

Driving back to Devon I come across what looks like a fatal traffic
accident. I ring the Bridport News and I’m told three members of the
public have already brought their digital cameras and telephones in,
offering pictures from the scene.

Three years ago, press
photographers were the only people who carried cameras with the ability
to transmit pictures from a car. Now there are 53 million press
photographers out there. It’s very worrying.

A call from the
Western Morning News picture desk sends me off to photograph a woman at
Cotford St Luke, a village near Taunton in Somerset that’s so new, it
isn’t listed in my A-Z roadmap and my satellite navigation doesn’t know
it exists. I find the house after telephoning for directions.

Football ends the day, with Plymouth Argyle winning 2-1 at home to Peterborough United in the Carling Cup. Home 11.15pm.

24.08.05

Heavy rain is pelting down. As part of a series on rural skills, I
have to get on a roof with a thatcher working on a new property in the
South Hams, but that’s postponed.

WMN picture editor Mike Cranmer calls with a job in the centre of
Torquay. With a mountain of paperwork to do, I’m heading home at
3.30pm. But before I make it home, I get a call from Devon wheelwright
Mike Rowlands.

He has just finished making eight 6ft high replica
gun carriage wheels for a client in Londonderry. It’s unusual and has
an interesting story to complement the pictures.

Home 5.30pm.

Richard Austin is Regional Press Awards photographer of the year and sports photographer of the year

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