Fleet Street Suntan

There are very few elements of being a working press photographer that I don’t like, occasionally the long hours irritate me, sometimes having to sit in the back of a van on a hot summers day without air conditioning gets me a bit peeved, however there is one element that always makes me a excited, the heart starts pounding, the adrenalin starts pumping and you never know how the job is going to go. The Target may turn nasty or alternatively run away.

The type of job is the monstering of a member of the public, whether it is in the middle of the night or during the day. Usually during the day, it can be done discretely, on a 70-200mm lens or longer, however at night it is a different proposition, I shall recount a couple of the two monsterings that I did at night here, one is very recent (only three days ago) the other is from a few years back, both were similar in that we really were on a tight deadline, it could only be done at night or very early in the morning.

The most recent story involved a schoolteacher that had allegedly planted a video camera in the teachers changing room.

The earlier story was slightly more bizarre and even more worrying, an imam at The Feltham Youth Offenders Detention Centre, an Abdul Ramon QUERSHI, was suspended from his job after telling fellow Muslims that they should celebrate the lives of the highjackers that crashed the planes on 9/11 and that they should pray for them. Obviously this didn’t go down too well with the powers that be. However nobody had a photograph of the guy, and no one was able to find out where he lives, well not easily anyway. So on the 28th December 2001 I was sent on a mission to find and photograph him. Working with a Muslim reporter, first was a traipse around almost all of the mosques in North and West London. After some 4 hours or so we tracked down the elusive QUERSHI, to an address somewhere in West London (not the nice part) it was pitch black, and the street was a cul-de-sac, the nosey neighbours were curtain twitching like good’uns, of course I didn’t stand out at all, being a white person, with a crew cut hair style sitting in a noisy Mitsubishi Shogun. After a ‘recce’ of the address for the target, we established that it would be impossible to photograph him once he made it to his front gate, so I decided (along with the reporter) that I would monster him in the street.

We had know idea of what this bloke looked like, as far as I was aware he maybe a 7 foot tall, knife wielding infidel hater, anyway after an hour of sitting in the road that he lived in, the reporter decided he needed to use the toilet and drove off in search of somewhere to relieve himself. As he departed, he said you won’t miss him will you. Within two minutes of him driving off, a man that may or may not of been our target walked down the road. I jumped out of the car with a Canon/Kodak DCS 520 with a 20-35mm F2.8 and 550 flash and shout out “Abdul, are you Abdul?” to which he replied yes, I pulled the camera from behind my back and let him have it, both barrels. After which he said that was very rude, my response was a rather cavalier “yes well, we prefer to shoot first and ask questions later!”

Abdul decided that he wasn’t going to say anymore, and I told him that a reporter will be around shortly and will knock on his door. Despite his initial reluctance to talk, he ended up giving a full sit down chat to the reporter. Job Jobbed.

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