Tips of the Trade: Photographer

Press Gazette speaks to the photography professionals about life as a snapper

Scott Barbour, staff photographer, Getty Images

Every day is different and you don’t have to go to an office. You can observe life in the best perspectives. You just go out and do it. If you really want it you can achieve it but you have to start at the bottom. Here in London there are dozens of photographers. For example, in a football game in Australia there are eight or nine press photographers, over here there are 40 or 50. You have to try your own way and do something different to stand out from the crowd.

Kirsty Anderson, staff photographer, Sunday Herald

My grandfather bought me my first camera when I was 15 — and took me to the local camera club. I started with scanning and working at the Sunday Herald four years ago, which was very hands on and gave me a good idea. I have been working as a photographer for the last year and a half. It’s a nurturing environment. I used to be told: “A photographer should be able to guarantee exposure and sharpness.” You always try to find the perfect picture – that keeps you going. It takes you to places and people you would not have imagined. You don’t know what you will be doing the next day. I am surrounded by talented photographers and worked with Stuart Attwood and Steve Cox who did amazing work in East Timor.

Dave Charnley, staff Photographer, Middlesbrough Evening Gazette

I got inspired by a photographer called Jim McEwen who showed me pictures of his work abroad. He also photographed Yasser Arafat. I think not knowing what’s next is the key. If somebody comes into the newsroom with an assignment – that’s a kick. You make the job interesting yourself. I went across to Kosovo with the British Army and I’ve been to the Wembley Finals. I think in pictures all the time. If you look around you frame things with your eye – even if you’re out with shopping. Local knowledge is helpful and getting to know people. Everybody has a story. Always keep the legal things in mind.

Paul Delmar, head of photojournalism, Sheffield College, Norton Centre

Photography is an “international” language – you can communicate through an image. You’ve got to have the passion. It is also vital to have knowledge of law and newspaper practice. We need people with interpersonal skills who are able to relate to people in different situations – whether it is bomb attacks or birthdays. We had people such as Dan Chung, Toby Melville and Martin Keene on our course. It gave them a good foundation but they all invested in themselves. To make it in this business you have to have motivation. Move with new technology but never ignore the old technologies. You also need dedication and a good sense of humour – we are just the catalyst.

Ian Rutherford, staff photographer, The Scotsman

Never give up – just try harder. There will always be chances. Spirit is important in this job. It might sound like a cliché but it’s true: you’re only as good as your last picture. It’s good to watch other photographers and their approach. I like working outside and using my initiative.

I travelled to Pakistan, Kosovo and Ethiopia to cover stories. Luckily I’ve never been in dangerous situations. I like the excitement of getting a good picture. No matter how long you have been in this business, you get a real buzz. You need a good imagination and an eye for a picture – going to a boring event and making a picture out of it.

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