Behind the picture
On 28th July 2009, I flew out of Sydney bound for Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. It was to be the start of a fascinating trip into the Afghan war zone.
I embedded with the American 10th Mountain Division in Logar province, in the East part of the country. I was then shipped out to “The Tip of The Spear” as they called it, to the district of Kherwar.
The unit I joined was part of the Coalition’s blocking force against Taliban forces who are trying to use the area as an alternative entry point to the Wardack province and into Kabul.
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These two young people and their dogs were camped out on the pavement of the busiest street of central Paris opposite the Town Hall.
They were lying on the footpath around dusk time completely oblivious of the throng of people going past them.
They were surrounded by all their paraphernalia – backpacks, sleeping bags and so forth - and two of their three dogs were frolicking around.
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My mates would say to me “Are you serious? You’re being sent to watch every ball of The Ashes, and you call that work?” It sounds like a dream job ... and believe me it is. But a lot goes in to photographing cricket, particularly an Ashes.
I was lucky enough to be given the assignment of covering the last two Ashes series for News Limited. The 2005 tour of England and then the return battle in the Australian summer of 06/07. In 2005 we set off at the beginning of June and wouldn’t return until mid September. It was a monster of a tour, including the one-dayers it was almost a 15 week trip. And sadly, England won.
The first thing you need to be a cricket photographer is stamina. There is no other sport like it. 540 balls a day, the best part of eight hours of action, five days in a row, countless training sessions, and the series last for months on end.
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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.
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Are we becoming so jaded by Photographic forgeries that we now question every image?
“Amazing picture is the real deal-no porkies” this was the headline on the page 5 picture story in last Tuesday’s Sydney Daily Telegraph.
The news content in this story about a giant feral pig shot some years back in Western Australia was that it was indeed a genuine picture and not forged. It had been written off as an internet hoax and even the WA ‘s own Department of Environment and Conservation had dismissed it as a forgery.
How have we reached this point where it is now news when a picture is in fact genuine and does it matter?
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October last year was the beginning of a bikie war and my introduction to the characters of Sydney’s underworld. My assignment: the funeral of Notorious crime gang member and former Nomad bikie Todd O’Connor at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Along with a small media pack, I took up a close-in position for the arrivals, soon finding out that we were not welcome with a family member performing a one-finger salute. As the service began I managed to get some shots from the back of the cathedral of the coffin in place with O’Connor’s mother to the side, sitting wheelchair-bound.
After capturing a few frames, we waited outside till the coffin was carried out, usually the time of highest emotion. For this funeral, emotions lead to threats of violence. The Notorious foot soldiers formed a protective ring around the mourning family, facing up to the photographers, and hitting one snapper in the back. I repositioned to the other side of the road enabling a few frames of Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim surrounded by his men…
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Silence was broken one night by sirens and the whirring of a low flying helicopter. The police chopper, with searchlights blazing, honed in on the lake-front park lands at Wattle Grove.
I grabbed my Police scanner and camera and went to see what was unfolding. The police chatter on the scanners told me the guy they were chasing was last seen in the lake waters and a mention of the nearby shopping centre.
Moving closer, I noticed a person creeping from the bird island bushes and into its murky waters. Click, click, I had the shot, but the drama was far from over…
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