Many of the world’s great photographers, Martin Parr and Joe McNally included, advocate diversifying in photography as much as possible. It makes sense, too, perhaps more for marine photographers than anyone else because our season in the UK is so short. It’s not difficult to picture the lonely marine photographer in the Autumn, trudging disconsolately back home with his camera dangling from his shoulders ready to hibernate through the long winter months. The fact is that there is still a great deal to photograph despite the fact that many boats haven’t hit the water yet and the big summer regattas are still a long way off.
There are times when I feel I’ve taken this diversification malarky a little too literally. Not only have I embraced the concept but I’ve plumbed even greater photographic depths. Over the past month or so I’ve attended a private gathering in London during which I had the opportunity to photograph HRH Prince Philip. He doesn’t go a bundle on photographers and hates flashguns. Throughout the event I was half expecting an ominous tap on the shoulder from one of the Royal Protection Officers and then to be ejected from the premises in an ungainly cartwheel to be followed swiftly by my kit, slung out onto the street after me. I took great care to keep my distance and use only a muted flash when absolutely necessary. I must have got something right because I remained unmolested throughout the event.
The following week I was asked to photograph a large group of donkeys. They don’t like photographers much either. Unlike HRH who would merely have me expelled, incarcerated and castrated me, the donkeys just wanted to eat my camera. In truth they were great fun to photograph and whilst running around a field after them I was able to use a massive range of lenses from 300mm to a fisheye. The fisheye was a mistake because I needed to be so close to the donkey. I found that I had to let them come to me and then start walking backwards. It was at this moment that I discovered that a donkey going forwards is quicker than I am going backwards, resulting in a licked lens. Other donkeys spotted the fun and would wait behind me as I reversed into them. HRH was simple by comparison.
And finally, joy of joys, an inanimate object to photograph. One that doesn’t chase, bite, object or castrate. The humble neoprene bag. Open beaches, great light, static objects, all the time in the world and, gulp, an audience. A growing, voluble audience, one of whom was heard to say, ‘Daddy, what’s that man lying on the sand doing with those bags?’
‘He’s diversifying, son.’
Roll on summer…