Utegate photos: capturing a political crisis on camera
One of the most exciting periods in politics for a long time began on Friday the 19th of June when little-known Treasury official Godwin Grech turned up for a Senate inquiry into the Ozcar affair. His sensational testimony led to him being chased through Parliament House. He was followed into a lift and to his car by a horde of media.
It was the start of a frenzied week in politics, when the news from Parliament House was interesting again, and Question Time became the best show in town. It swung wildly from Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull calling for Kevin Rudd to resign to the Liberal leader being under all the pressure.
The first photo is of Treasury official Godwin Grech under pressure and showing it in the Senate inquiry. When he was giving his evidence there was a crackling in the air – you knew it would be an all-in when he left the room.
I was one of the first into the lift and a bunch of others piled in. Others were much closer to his face, but by reaching up and shoot downwards I was able to capture the swarm of media around him.
His short trip to his car was a frantic couple of minutes, with media getting into the lift with him and running down the Ministerial corridors. This almost never happens in Parliament House.
The following week the focus turned to the chamber.
Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull reacting to Treasurer Wayne Swan’s remarks in Question time.
During the week they were men under fire and they let their emotions show.
We shoot from windows behind the public galleries and the politicians try their best to avoid betraying their emotions or making gestures which will end up on the front pages. They watch us from the floor and you can see sometimes they re-arrange themselves to avoid a damaging picture.
Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull cuts a lonely figure in Question Time.
For the whole week photographers were in search of that one photo that summed up the week.
You’re looking for the photo that reflects the progress of the story, but Turnbull can be very hard to shoot. He must blink more than an average person – if you take 10 shots of him, he’ll have his eyes closed in six.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gives a passionate response to the Opposition’s questioning over utegate, finally showing some emotion in Parliament.
Rudd has an animated face and he shows a lot of expression, which is good for photographers. One small problem with him, though, is that on the angle that we shoot from is the thin rim at the top of his glasses can intrude on his eyes.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the end of a gruelling week sits strong and sure in the wake of utegate, while Turnbull looks at the PM thinking about what could have been.
For these photos we are set up as you would for a football game, using a powerful lens and a monopod. The camera needs to be tilted on an angle of about 45 degrees or more to get these shots of the two leaders across the centre of the chamber.
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