I’ve often linked here to posts by Jeremy Nicholl on his The Russian Photos blog, for example his excellent coverage of the Morel vs AFP/Getty saga (the agencies have lost twice but are still fighting – perhaps just to benefit the lawyers) and it was interesting to read an interview with him today on the ‘SellNews Blog‘.
The heading to the post there also made me smile a little. “A comfortable pair of shoes is one of the most important pieces of photo equipment” is a quotation from Nicholls, but was also almost word for word my reply some years ago when I was being interviewed for some amateur photographic magazine. There it was the kind of interview that went through a stock series of questions, and one at the end was “What is your most useful photographic accessory?” and my answer “A comfortable pair of shoes” was not really what the interviewer wanted.
A few years later in another similar interview, about my urban landscape work, my answer had changed, and had become my Brompton, a superb British-made folding bicycle that had made my later work in the Thames Gateway possible. The distances there were too much for convenient walking, and the bike took me to places that a car would not have reached (and in any case I’ve given up driving) and let me stop almost anywhere on the roads to photograph. No nonsense about finding somewhere to park and walking miles back to find the light had changes or that what looked interesting at 5o mph didn’t quite look so good when you got back to it. The Brompton has the big advantage that once folded it could also always be taken on trains and the underground across London (and on buses, but usually it’s quicker to ride.)
More recently it’s back to shoes again for me, with much more of my work in central London, and often at events where a bike might be damaged or be very likely to be stolen if locked out of the way. So it’s back to buses and walking – and sometimes the tube or Overground. My taste in shoes has changed – then I went for lightweight hand-sewn leather, while now I prefer rather heavier, warmer and more expensive and waterproof models that provide more support.
But Nicholl’s interview isn’t just about shoes and the Morel case, and there is a nice section where he gives his view that photographers have to be not neutral but honest, as well as his views on social media, his problems photographing in Russia, his equipment and his clear advice to those amateur photographers who wish to become professional: “marry into money.” Though he does go on to say more. The whole piece is worth reading.