Every time you open a newspaper, click on a news website or check out what is happening in the world there is a very high chance that you will be looking at the work of a professional press photographer. From Tiananman Square to Old Trafford and from the red carpet at the latest film premiere to protests on the streets of our cities those iconic images were almost certainly produced by us and our colleagues.
It can be fun, it’s often exciting and it is regularly very dangerous. Press photographers go into situations where very few people apart from the emergency services and armed forces go because we take the job of recording the news and creating a historical record very seriously and because we believe in a free press. Our work sometimes has a very short ‘shelf-life’ but in that newspaper, that magazine or on that website and on that day it has real importance and our world would be poorer without it.
Next time you see a stunning news picture please think about what the photographer must have done to get it. The chances are that they got up early, travelled a fair way, used the skills that they have learned over several years and made full use of the latest technology to deliver it to their editors.
We often hear that these days “anyone can take a good picture” but that isn’t the point. Sure, most people take the odd good picture three or four times a year but professional press photographers do it 99.9% of the time, under pressure and to impossible deadlines and they have a damned good excuse for the 0.1% of occasions when their pictures might be considered less than good.
If that isn’t enough, press photographers do all of this within the law, within codes of conduct and under the watchful eye of a critical public. A public who often mistake badly behaved people with posh cameras – citizen journalists and citizen paparazzi – for the genuine professionals and tar us all with the same dirty brush.