Colin McPherson

Photographer and Visual Artist

Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Winners and losers in Wirral

Counted Conservative ballot papers. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Counted Conservative ballot papers. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

It was a long and strange night. But then, voting in your Member of Parliament often is.

As the 2015 General Election drama unfolded across these islands, a tennis centre in Wirral became the focus of a political mini-drama. A fight-within-a-fight. On an evening when the Labour balloon slowly deflated on a giant television screen in the corner of the counting hall, Wirral West MP Esther McVey became the only Conservative government minister to lose her seat in the UK, as Margaret Greenwood sneaked home for the Labour Party with a wafer-thin majority of 400 after a recount.

The cheers and smiles of the victors masked disappointment that the swingometer in Scotland was looking more like a Richter scale while further south, the Tories were entrenching themselves at Westminister for another five years.

In the end the winner was the loser and vice versa. Funny old game, politics!

Tellers checking voting. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Tellers checking voting. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Esther McVey tackles the media. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Esther McVey tackles the media. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

The Scottish swingometer. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

The Scottish swingometer. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Tories watching results on TV. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Tories watching results on TV. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Wirral West candidates scrutinise votes. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Wirral West candidates scrutinise votes. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

A victorious Margaret Greenwood. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

A victorious Margaret Greenwood. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Labour celebrate a rare victory. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Labour celebrate a rare victory. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Esther departs, stage right. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Esther departs, stage right. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

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Football’s becoming home

Supporters of Runcorn Linnets watch their team at local rivals Runcorn Town. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2013 all rights reserved.

Runcorn Linnets at local rivals Runcorn Town. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2013 all rights reserved.

In the week that saw the top tier of English soccer sell the remaining scrap of its soul in a £5bn television deal, my favourite magazine has launched a collection of contemporary and archive football photography which shows a different side of the game.

Showcasing the photography of its four regular contributors, the When Saturday Comes (WSC) ‘Images of Football Culture’ collection allows the viewer to browse images made over the last two decades, including my own work for the magazine.

The unique view of Dundee's stadiums. © Colin McPherson, 2011 all rights reserved.

The unique view of Dundee’s stadiums. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2011 all rights reserved.

My association with WSC started back in the 1980s when I would write the occasional article on Scottish football. The newly-formed magazine was one of the many publications which sprang into life during the fanzine boom of that period and was a response to the increasing commercialisation of the sport and a feeling of alienation amongst supporters across all nations and divisions. Back then, these often home-produced efforts would be glued together, photocopied and sold by supporters on matchdays at their teams’ grounds. Some survived, some rode the wave and disappeared. Others grew and flourished and continue to this day, the ethos and beliefs still there for all to see and read.

Nottingham Forest fans at Derby County. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Nottingham Forest fans at Derby County. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

My association with fanzines and WSC waned until 10 years ago when I was asked to cover the first-ever fixture of newly-formed fans’ team FC United of Manchester for a national newspaper. WSC picked up on the set of photographs and asked to run some in the magazine. Only after publication, did they join the pixels and discover that I was the same person they had commissioned all those years ago. It re-started a love affair with the magazine and for the last decade I have been proud and delighted to have contributed photos and features for WSC on a regular basis.

Outside Goodison Park before a game. © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Outside Goodison Park before a game. © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Now, it’s one of the highlights of the month for me going to a match with my camera for WSC. Whether it’s an international match or a fixture at a non-League club, the approach is always the same: to get under the skin of the sport and to reflect the fans’ experience as seen through the lens.

Behind the scenes at Tow Law Town. Photo © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

Behind the scenes at Tow Law Town. Photo © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

This growing collection of photography by Simon Gill, Tony Davis, Paul Thompson and myself has been put together by WSC art editor Doug Cheeseman and is available now for licensing images – or just pure nostalgic enjoyment by people who love the sport.

 

 

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Ich bin ein Berliner

Brandenburg Gate, West Berlin, 1985. © Colin McPherson.

Brandenburg Gate, West Berlin, 1985. © Colin McPherson.

There will be much written and discussed about the Berlin Wall this weekend, as Germany and Europe commemorate the momentous events of November 9, 1989, when the barrier which had divided the city since 1961 was sensationally breached by its citizens.

The anniversary also coincides rather neatly with me marking 25 years as a professional photographer. The irony for me is that had I not secured paid employment as a photographer in Edinburgh at the beginning of November 1989, I would surely have been in Berlin on that dramatic and fateful night. But it wasn’t to be.

It’s September 1989. I am packing my bags and returning to Scotland after a couple of months in Berlin. I’d been to visit friends on the eastern side of the Wall, making trips to East Berlin and Leipzig, where all the talk was of GDR citizens trying to find ways of either getting out of their country or laying low before any crackdown by the authorities occurred. I left Berlin with plans for a quick return. The place had become my second home and as well as my fascination for Berlin and its history, my friend, uncle and mentor, the photographer Henning Langenheim was my other reason to find inspiration in the city. He was a constant source of information and knowledge, not only about photography, but on the current state-of-affairs in the fulcrum of Europe. I listened and learned from him, but the the only thing he – like everyone else – failed to predict, was that within two months of me leaving West Berlin, the Wall would fall.

It’s October 1989. I am back in Edinburgh and an advert in the local paper advertises the position of photographer at the Edinburgh Herald & Post, a weekly advertiser owned by the Scotsman newspaper. I was encouraged to apply, and for some reason or other, I beat off 94 other applicants to land the job. Full-time, starting immediately. So I put down my travelling bag and picked up my kit bag. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I remember watching in awe the spectacle of East Germans climbing on the Wall on that remarkable night and the scenes the following day of Trabants streaming through the checkpoints. I understood the territory, but like everyone else, couldn’t understand the bigger picture. In the days, weeks and months that followed, Henning Langenheim photographed the Die Wende. Eventually, when holidays permitted, I returned to Berlin and trained my camera on the city again.

My career has taken a long, varied and interesting path, it’s trajectory ever upwards from those days of local news around Edinburgh and West Lothian. I wouldn’t change it for anything. But there’s a tiny part of me which wonders to this day, what would have happened if I hadn’t returned to Scotland, instead staying on in Berlin until November 9, 1989. I have photographed Berlin, on and off, for over three decades (click here to see a gallery). But even now, 25 years after it fell, the Wall still fascinates and captivates me.

 

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Scotland decides

Watching the sheep competition, Dalmally Show, Argyll. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014 all rights reserved.

Watching the sheep competition, Dalmally Show, Argyll. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

As the day moves ever closer to when the people of Scotland decide whether they wish to live in a nation independent of the rest of the United Kingdom, I am travelling across the country, taking the political temperature and looking for clues as to what the result of the historic referendum on 18th September might be.

Volunteers and public at a Yes stall in Edinburgh. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014 all rights reserved.

Volunteers and public at a Yes stall in Edinburgh. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

I will be in Scotland right up until the vote on the 18th and also aim to capture the national mood in the 24 hours after the voting finishes and the result is announced. My photography tires to show the diversity of Scotland: from its towns and cities to rural areas, from north to south and across the breadth of the land. I will be following politicians and people alike, watching, listening and documenting as I go.

A man putting a stone on the Auld Acquaintance Cairn, Gretna. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014 all rights reserved.

A man putting a stone on the Auld Acquaintance Cairn, Gretna. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

If you have any information about events, people or places relevant to the referendum, please get in touch and let me know what you think might be interesting for me to photograph. My hope is to build as complete a picture as possible of the events of September 2014.

A large Yes sign attached to a selling in the Royal Mile, Edinburgh. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014 all rights reserved.

A large Yes sign attached to a flat in the Royal Mile, Edinburgh. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

To see the images I am making at this time, please have a look at my Archive, which I will be adding to on a daily basis over the next three weeks.

 

 

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On display

2014 looks like being remembered as being the summer which I truly made an exhibition of myself!

I am fortunate to be showing four separate bodies of work at four different venues across four cities.

Sarah Bush, pictured at her office in Liverpool where she works for HMRC. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014, all rights reserved.

Sarah Bush, pictured at her office in Liverpool where she works for HMRC.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014, all rights reserved.

Already on show is my contribution to DaDaFest who commissioned me to make portraits on the theme of disability at work. The resulting Working Lives: Here and There exhibition is on show as part of Liverpool’s International Festival for Business and can be seen on the sixth floor of 43 Castle Street in Liverpool until 26 July. There are restricted opening times: Wednesday-Friday (12.30-5pm) and Saturday (12.30-3pm).

'Border fence, Cheviot hills, 2014' from 'A Fine Line - Exploring Scotland's Border with England'. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014, all rights reserved.

‘Border fence, Cheviot hills, 2014’ from ‘A Fine Line – Exploring Scotland’s Border with England’.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014, all rights reserved.

On 1 July, Beyond the Border opens at Impressions Gallery in Bradford, where I will be   showing my project entitled A Fine Line, part of the Document Scotland group show.

Designed and staged by the gallery’s director, Anne McNeill, this major event is a milestone in my career: the first time my work has been fully curated. It also marks the first exhibition in England exclusively showing Document Scotland’s work. Working with Anne and the staff at Impressions on the exhibition has been both educational and enlightening and myself and my colleagues are looking forward to a terrific launch night in Bradford on Thursday 3 July. The exhibition continues until 27 September 2014. We will be staging a professional development day and artists’ talks at the gallery on Saturday 26 July.

"Is gender inequality an impediment to poverty elimination?". Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014, all rights reserved.

“Is gender inequality an impediment to poverty elimination?”.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014, all rights reserved.

Next up, the A41 Project reaches the southern end of the eponymous trunk road and will be exhibited at Free Space Gallery in Kentish Town. The show will open on 23 July and continue until 12 September (Monday to Friday 9am-6.30pm). This will be the final outing for this particular project, having previously been shown in West Bromwich, Milton Keynes and Birkenhead.

The demolition of Ravenscraig, 1996. © Colin McPherson, 2014.

The demolition of Ravenscraig, 1996. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Finally, there’s the results of another collaboration to look forward to at the end of August when Document Scotland’s Common Ground exhibition opens at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow. The exhibition is a partnership with Welsh collective A Fine Beginning and I will be showing a new body of work made and completed over the summer of 2014 entitled Phoenix: the fall and rise of Ravenscraig, which looks at the legacy of the giant steel mill in Lanarkshire, controversially closed down in 1992, which I photographed being demolished four years later. The exhibition runs for a couple of months and we will be staging two-days of artists’ talks, portfolio reviews and other activities on 29 and 30 August at the gallery.

I hope to see you at some of these exciting events over the next three months.

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They’ll Never Walk Alone

Flowers in memory of the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster on display at Anfield. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Flowers at Anfield today. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Twenty-five-years ago today, I, like tens of thousands of people of all ages across these islands, was making my way to a football match, to watch and cheer my favourite team.

It had been a ritual I had performed year-in, year-out since my early teenage years and nothing on that spring day in 1989 made me think that my routine would ever change. That day, however, would change football forever. We weren’t to know that at the time, as we made our way through to Glasgow as part of the Meadowbak Thistle Brake Club.

Try as I might, I simply cannot recall anything about that particular away day to Partick Thistle. I have scoured the internet and discovered that my team, battling grimly to avoid relegation from the second tier of Scottish football, lost 2-1. I cannot even find the identity of my team’s goalscorer or team line up. And even though I search through my memories of my Meadowbank days, I can recall virtually nothing of what happened before or during that match.

People walking in front of a banner commemorating the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster at Anfield. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

People gathering outside Anfield today. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

The small details I can recall seemed to have been overlaid subsequently in response to the tragic events south of the border that afternoon at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield. Did we receive radio reports of deaths at an FA Cup semi-final as we clambered aboard our supporters’ bus at 4.45pm that day? Or had someone in the crowd relayed to us news of some incident as we settled down to watch the first half? In those days before we could conceive of the internet and social media, let alone mobile phones, news filtered around so slowly that it often made events seem distant and irrelevant to our lives.

In the aftermath of Hillsborough came a realisation that change had to happen. The cramped, dangerous, Victorian stadia were gradually replaced by modern temples to a national religion. Where once we all stood, now most sit. Even at the lower levels of the game, the grounds we visited in the 1989 (and I attended every one of Meadowbank’s fixtures that season) have either been vacated and/or replaced. It is with some irony, that my team no longer exist, victim of the new rapaciousness which infiltrated many spheres of football post-Hillsborough. But my loss is nothing compared to what happened at Hillsborough.

Scarves from various football clubs tied to the Shankly Gates outside Anfield. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Scarves tied to the Shankly Gates today. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Ten years ago, I moved to Merseyside. Renting a flat on the banks of the mighty Mersey, with the Liver building and its famous flightless birds in the distance, I became acquainted with a city I had previously known little about. The longer I have lived here, the more I have understood the place and its people and it’s almost all-consuming love and passion for the game of football.

In my capacity as a photojournalist and a citizen, I have met and befriended scores of people whose lives were touched intimately and directly by the tragedy which engulfed Liverpool Football Club on that April day in south Yorkshire. I have photographed the families of those who never returned from the match and heard eyewitness accounts from friends and acquaintances about what they saw that day. There’s sadness, there’s grief and there’s anger as well.

Women signing on the Kop during the Hillsborough memorial service. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Women singing on the Kop during the service. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Much is assumed about Liverpool and its people. Lazy, shorthand cliches about the Scouse character and about how people in this great city live their lives. But the characteristic most prominent when it came to securing the truth about the deaths of those 96 football fans is determination. During the long campaign to establish what happened at that football match on that day, there has been a constant search for answers, and a longing for truth and justice. That campaign is ongoing and not yet concluded.

“You should go. You’re a football fan,” Terry, a self-proclaimed ‘mad Red’ had told me last week. “It’s not just about Liverpool, it’s about all football fans, everywhere.” So today I went to the Hillsborough memorial for the first time. Wearing the same scarf I’d worn 25 years before I joined the throng of supporters from numerous clubs making their way to Anfield Stadium and took a seat on the famous Kop. I watched and listened to the men of faith, to the soft hymnal singing, the music, the prayers, to the dedications and thanks. I reflected on what this annual event means to an oft-maligned city and clapped as loud as anyone when Everton manager Roberto Martinez stated that they – the establishment, the authorities who’d betrayed Liverpool – had “picked on the wrong city.”

Red balloons being released during the Hillsborough memorial service. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Red balloons being released. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

As we filed safely out of Anfield, I reflected on what this disaster was really about for me. At its core, it was the loss of 96 lives, taken away whilst doing something that I took for granted each week: supporting my team. But what divides us in football also unites us as fans, no matter what team we follow. This is not just about those lives lost. It’s not just about football either. It is about justice. ‘Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied’ read one of the banners attached to the gates outside Anfield today. If, in the end, the victims of the tragedy and their families get the justice they deserve, then we as football supporters can truly go to watch our teams week-in, week-out with hope in our hearts.

In the meantime, their fight goes on. And it’s our fight too.

Fans linking arms after the 25th anniversary memorial service at Anfield. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

Fans linking arms after the service. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014.

 

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Out on the street

Protestors from the National Association of Probation Officers on a picket line in Liverpool. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014, all rights reserved.

Protestors from the National Association of Probation Officers on a picket line in Liverpool.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2014, all rights reserved.

I came across a group of picket line protesters on the way back from a meeting in central Liverpool today.

The spirit of defiance and rebellion is still active on Merseyside, where members of the National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) were demonstrating as part of a nationwide day of action against the imminent privatisation of large parts of this successful and necessary service. NAPO, which has the best performance record of any public service, has helped re-offending rates decrease year-on-year so that they are now at their lowest levels since 2007. Reducing re-offending means safer communities, fewer victims and less crime.

There’s always so much negativity around protest in this country. And often so much defeatism when it comes to halting the juggernaut of private enterprise as it careers through our daily lives. I thought the image of two, young women offered the best illustration of their protests. And some hope for the future.

If you want to  find out more about NAPO, visit their website.

 

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Operation Finn

  Finn-Blog-01a

“…and if you’re going to faint, please make sure you fall backwards out of the operating theatre!”

It was a solitary moment of humour during two tough months. Delivered to me and my journalist colleague Louise Tickle by the theatre matron at the London Evelina Children’s Hospital moments before we were due to witness open heart surgery on 10-day old Finn Jones, the words were still ringing in my ears as the operation to save the baby’s life got underway.

Five hours later we emerged from theatre, the work of surgeon Conal Austin complete. The operation had been a success. Finn could look forward to a normal, healthy life, with a normal healthy heart. I left the hospital completely drained and exhausted, yet with a feeling of life-affirming exhilaration, knowing I had witnessed what in Biblical times would have been termed a miracle. A tiny life, brought back from the abyss by the knowledge, skill and tenacity of the surgeon and his team, supported by all those at the hospital.

This part of the assignment had not been planned: originally the commission was to document the work of the staff at the Evelina’s intensive care unit (ICU), focusing on the multi-layered, specialist care which goes on every day, every week, every year. The dedication of the staff, from senior consultants to cleaners, brings into relief just how many resources are required to care for premature and newborn babies with a multitude of complicated health needs who are brought into the unit I visited.

Then Louise and I met Philip and Kathryn Jones from Kent, bright and bubbly and still giddy with excitement at the arrival of their first baby, Finn. They were open and friendly and when we approached them about documenting their experiences of life in the ICU, they were supportive of the idea. Over the next few days we began to learn more about Finn’s condition and were confronted with a dilemma: Finn was scheduled to have a ‘heart switch’ operation to correct a major defect. While our assignment was originally meant to focus on the unit, suddenly the operation took centre stage as the defining event in this larger-than-life case study. It felt wrong to ignore it and to pick up the story again after surgery, when Finn would be back in intensive care.

Finn-Blog-03a

A couple of days prior to the operation, Louise and I made the decision to approach Finn’s parents and the hospital, to enquire about being present for at least a short period of time either immediately before or after – or as a best case scenario during – surgery. Both Louise and I realised we would be asking Philip and Kathryn to place an enormous amount of trust in us – as virtual strangers – to be present at the crucial moment of this young life. After much consideration, understandably so given the nature of the request, consent was given just three hours before Finn was taken down to theatre from the ICU and put in the care of the anaesthetist. All of a sudden there were briefings about etiquette and behaviour around an operation, disinfection, getting changed into scrubs and preparing ourselves for something neither Louise nor I had ever experienced before and which we had no time to prepare for mentally. As someone whose squeamishness extends to diving behind a sofa if a hypodermic needle is produced on television, I did consider the consequences of getting close to open heart surgery. I knew, however, that my part in this operation was as a bystander, a witness and that everyone in that room was expected to do their job to the best of their ability, and that should include me. In the end, I suppose, some sort of adrenaline kicked in and the remarkable ability we have to carry on as normal took over as I quietly and unobtrusively as possible photographed the watchful precision of the surgical team as they went about their business in a calm and hushed environment. I concentrated entirely on photographing what was unfolding in the space around me, never stopping to consider the wider implications of what I was actually seeing. Occasionally, I would step back to the outer walls of the room, to draw breath, pause and reflect. But in those moments, I endeavoured to remain focused and not allow my mind to wander, especially to personal thoughts about my family, in particular my own healthy, happy children far way.

Those five hours seemed to pass simultaneously in an instant and yet last a lifetime. I had little comprehension of what occurred medically, but realised the enormity of what I was seeing and photographing and I hope the pictures convey a sense of what was achieved in that dark arc of concentration and skill. It was a privilege to be allowed such access to something so fundamental, and hiding behind my camera, I watched events unfold with a sense of humility. When it was over, my instinct was to taste the fresh, autumnal air outside the hospital and breath deeply and thankfully.

Finn-Blog-02a

After the rarefied sense of achievement, the following few days proved to be black. Finn’s condition deteriorated due to falling blood pressure and word came through that his struggle for life wasn’t over. This news wrenched me back to the emotions of the operating theatre and made me question what I had seen: had I witnessed the beginning or end of a short life? Until we heard that Finn had miraculously started to pull through after several days of teetering on the brink, I looked deep into myself and sought answers to questions about the consequences of getting so close to a story.

Over the following month, Finn’s condition fluctuated but he eventually gained the weight and strength required to be allowed to go home with his parents for the first time. The final chapter for me and this story played out on a bleak, December day, illuminated by a visit to the Jones family house to take photographs of Philip, Kathryn and Finn together, all smiling and looking forward to a bright future thanks in no small part to the wonders of modern medicine and the people who deliver it.

 

(Colin McPherson and journalist Louise Tickle worked on commission for the Guardian Weekend Magazine between October and December 2013 documenting the work of the London Evelina Children’s Hospital. The article was published on 18th January 2014. The gallery of photographs accompanying this blog contains images from Finn’s operation which some of you might find distressing.)

 

 

 

 

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Stormy start

UK - Argyll - Storms

Happy New Year – it’s off to a stormy start here on Easdale Island. Let’s hope that’s not an indication of rough weather ahead.

With lots of plans, ideas and projects to be worked on throughout 2014, it will take more than a few windy days to blow me off course.

I hope you all have a great year whatever you are doing and wherever you are.

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Front row seat

Nelson Mandela attending the CHOGM conference, in Edinburgh. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1997 all rights reserved.

Nelson Mandela attending the CHOGM conference, in Edinburgh.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1997 all rights reserved.

The absolute best thing about being a photographer? A front row seat.

Whether it’s the Rolling Stones or Oasis in concert, being in touching distance when Scotland’s centre-forward scores the winning goal, or being able to see the whites of the eyes of politicians or celebrities as they hold court, there’s no better feeling than knowing you are closer to the action than anyone else in the world at that particular moment.

Even since the announcement of the death of Nelson Mandela yesterday evening in South Africa, there’s been acres of writing and pictured printed about the life and legacy of one of the 20th century’s most notable and influential political activists and leaders. There have been poignant tributes and fond recollections from people who knew him well or were fortunate enough to meet him. As a photographer, our relationship with someone in such elevated public gaze is somewhat removed: we share the intimacy of the space, but rarely get to interact with them. Yet our pictures must convey the sense, the mood and the gravitas (or humour!) of what is being said.

My sole encounter with Mr Mandela came at a media conference he gave during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Edinburgh in 1997. I was detailed to be in the meeting, so didn’t photograph the arrival or departure that day as he sped from meeting to event to function. And there was a condition to photographing him in that somewhat dingy conference centre: because of the damage sustained to his eyesight during his years of incarceration, we were forbidden to use flash guns to illuminate the great man. The result on that pre-digital day, was a series of grainy, rather static images. Nevertheless, there was no doubting his power as a speaker and his presence in that room filled more than just the front row where I was sitting.

It was a privilege just to be there.

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