A rare blog entry as it contains no photos and its largely about me. This may not happen again (hopefully)
Being involved in bike events as I am I do appreciate that in terms of exertion levels and blood sweat tears etc I do have the cleaner end of the stick. We all make choices and mine is to choose the camera over the bike. Not an easy decision and don’t get me wrong there are countless times when I have to resist the temptation to cast aside the camera and remount. My first off road race was the Cheshire Classic in the early 90s. I finished third in the sports category.It never got any better than that. Legends such as David Baker and a young Helen Mortimer were out there that day also. Styrene helmets with plastic covers, GT Tequesta, no shocks, no disc brakes. Happy days
I digress. I got an email last week from a participant of a sportive I had recently photographed. He liked the photo I had taken of him but not enough to pay £5.50 for the download. He offered me £1.50 on the basis that I may reduce it to this price in a year. Don’t get me wrong, he was very polite and we engaged in some witty online banter, but of course I refused.
I refused because I value my work and my ability as a photographer. I also believe it is a reflection of the effort that goes into covering an event. A sportive is a good example. Many of my events are in the Peak District. I live in Wigan. Most events start around 8.00am and I like to be in position at least 30 minutes prior to this. So on a sportive day I will get up around 5:30am. I will get my shots then typically depart for home around 2:00pm.
Back home for 3:30pm and an hour off to recharge the cranial batteries. Then the fun starts. I upload my photos (typically 600+) onto the Mac and start editing. This takes around 4 hours. I crop, tweak colours, convert to monochrome sometimes. I then upload to my website and this takes 2 to 3 hours. T’interweb is slow in Wigan where electricty is still a phenomenon. Once they are on I do all my marketing, tweeting etc. The time is now around 11:30pm. So up at 5:30am job done for 11:30pm, total 18 hours. All done in a day and to the highest possible standard. Of the many thousand photos I have sold there has never been one, not one, complaint. Other events are slightly less intense, cyclocross, MTB, road racing but still not easy. And if its press work there are deadlines.
Now none of this is a complaint. I said at the start that it is a choice and I love it, really love it. I must do! Its just my way of conveying the process that goes into producing the end product. You may see me taking your photo and then see the photo the next day. There is a big bit in the middle, between A and B if you like. Similarly if you are a cyclist I see you riding a bike. I don’t see the big bit where you are out training in all weathers and eating hamster food to keep your body in tip top, race ready condition. Similar, except yours physically hurts a hell of a lot more than mine. Choices.
We are lucky as we all, in some capacity or other, involve ourselves in a wonderful and from my standpoint highly photogenic sport. I admire each and every last one of you for playing your part (not quite true as I have met the odd pillock) and express my thanks for letting me stick my camera into your face, occasionally at times when its the last thing you want. You will thank me later though when you are sending it off to Moon Pig! Its all good fun.
So spare just a tiny thought for the photographer, whether it is me or some other poor soul, next time you see him and in return I will continue to shoot you at your sweatiest, most exhausted, distressed and sometimes elated best
Enjoy the ride and I promise that the next post will a) contain photos and b) not be about me