04 July 2007

Some rememberances

I've got a lot of pictures to process since my long trip. In the mean time I will post some recollections as posted at Lightstalkers.org on encounters with greatness/famous people.

First: I’ve met and photographed plenty of famous people and on only three occasions was I ever awe struck. Ordinarily it doesn’t cost me a thought but the first such encounter that affected me, and deeply, was photographing the great and kindly gentleman, Nelson Mandela. He was on his first official visit to the UK as president of South Africa in 1996. I long lensed a shot of him inspecting a guard of honor but that felt just like every news shot I’d ever made.

However, sometime later at Buckingham Palace I was asked to make a picture of him with the entire staff of the place on the steps at the rear of the Palace. While we were waiting for the Queen herself to arrive on the veranda to pose with him I had a chance to shake his hand. There were two of us I recall, along with some Palace staffers and no security people at all. It was lovely and I was utterly beside myself as I had such love and respect for this great figure of history. He was delightful and funny. He appeared to really be enjoying himself.

Last year I was in the middle of yet another bureaucrat nonsense at the federal building downtown regarding updating my greencard and I passed an astonishingly gorgeous woman all in black with just about the biggest eyes I’d ever seen. My heart skipped a beat, honestly, and I was struck at how tiny and physically insignificant she appeared to be. Though that might have been a result of two huge men flanking her. She was more radiant that Diana Princess of Wales. But maybe my Irish cynicism dulled any affect Diana, and royalty generally, might have had on me. This exquisite creature was Angelina Jolie.

The third such encounter was also quite affecting in an alpha male sort of way. I was at the “Festival of Speed” back in the 90’s which is a day of racing exotic and antique cars on some aristocrat’s estate in southern England. Anyway, one of the sponsors for the day was Omega, the Swiss luxury watch maker and two of it’s stars were on hand to pose for cameras. They were Pierce Brosnan (James Bond at the time) and the Irish Formula One racing driver, Eddie Irvine. (Pierce Brosnan is also Irish, funnily enough.) These two men just oozed charisma and machismo. Their being so seriously handsome, dapper, strong, confident and extremely rich made, I’m sure, all of us ordinarily hardened hacks, quite pathetic and nervous. It was a serious alpha male moment and felt quite primal.

Second: I was nearly struck by Bob Geldof. I was doorstepping his place shortly after Paula Yates died. There were three of us left when he finally appeared. He was with his kids whom we had been ordered not to photograph by the Press Complaints Commission. As he came down the street we made some pictures and he became furious. Rightfully so. I hated being there. Anyway, he confronted us and demanded we identify ourselves. The two other photographers gave bogus names but I told him mine and for whom I was shooting. He wrote everything down. We explained that it was easy for us to photograph him and not his children, that we were aware of the recent ruling. It was very tense.

About three weeks later I was assigned by the Mail on Sunday to meet with him at his Capital Radio office in Leicester Square. I was petrified to say the least. Would he recognize me? Would he refuse to be photographed? Would he complain to the MoS? Anyway, I showed up and we ended up having a good time. I pulled out my F90x’s and so on and proceeded with the shoot. Then after that I pulled out my very old Olympus rangefinder to make a wide shot of him against his huge window looking out over the square. He immediately became quite excited. Turns out he had had several of these same camera over the years and went on the tell me all about the best pictures he made with them. It was fun. About 20 mins after the shoot I had to crawl back and ask to make those rangefinder shots again as there had not been any film in the thing. He thought this was hilarious and obliged me and so we hung out some more.

I’m sure he recognized me from the altercation on the street weeks previously but he didn’t say anything.
Post a Comment