The quote “F8 and be there” is attributed to Weegee (Arthur Fellig) who was a famous street photographer during the 1930’s, 40’s and beyond.
In the late 1970s Alan was bitten by the by the journalistic bug on coming across a copy Photojournalism: Life Library of Photography. Alan was set on a career in the media, along with a Cosina CT-1.
The Fellig quote, Alan believes represents a philosophy to keep technical decisions simple and be where your vision takes you. Photographs, wherever they are made and regardless of the subject, always require a “be there” component and an element of sharpness. Both provides the ability to work quickly, a necessity when working with action subjects.
In the summer of 1982 Alan moved with his mother to Hong Kong and bought a Canon A1, he now owns his 9th Canon. While in Hong Kong he put together a portfolio of images entitled ‘ A Colony Living on Borrowed Time.
Alan went to Glasgow University to study English and Philosophy to get the degree he needed to gain entrance to postgraduate journalism training. He became Chief Photographer of the Glasgow University Guardian and was also News Editor of Glasgow University Student Television.
The right place right time worked for Alan when he turned up for a review with singer Ian Durie of the Blockheads fame. As it was a Sunday, no one else had bothered to turn up. Alan’s words and images were exclusive.
He gained a place on the postgraduate journalism diploma course at what was then University College, Cardiff (now Cardiff University) – Britain’s top journalism school. After 10 weeks basic journalism training, he specialised in broadcasting.
After graduating from Cardiff, Alan briefly worked as a researcher on BBC Radio Scotland morning show Macgregor’s Gathering before getting into newspapers with The Sunday Post.
He worked in regional and local newspapers as a photojournalist, editor, sub-editor, picture editor and web editor for more than 23 years and reported on a vast array of events – from Lockerbie to post-Revolution Romania.
His career included relaunching a free newspaper in Kendal, The Lakeland Echo, to the point where the print run had to be increased, before being bought out by its main rival.
In 1997 he moved back to the Sunday Post as Sub Editor. In 2001 he became picture editor. During this time he undertook an MBA. And bought his first digital camera, a Canon Powershot Pro. With changes in the newspaper industry Alan took voluntary redundancy from The Sunday Post as part of a restructure in which his job disappeared from the organisation chart.
This prompted a move into PR as the natural way of using his storytelling skills, in words and pictures. He now runs his own Media, PR company. His clients include, The Carnegie Trust, Barnrett’s Motors, BID, Perth Local Council and many others.
In taking us through his journey, Alan provided images to supplement his talk and illustrate what images work with newspaper stories. Images need to have variety of shape, different lens perspective and techniques. Many say the ‘decisive shot’ is down to luck. One photo journalist stated ‘Luck Is Preparation, Waiting For Opportunity’.
Alan gave his top 12 tips to get the right image. Some of those tips included:
- Previsualise plannable pictures.
- Good PR pictures should tell the story.
- Always check your camera batteries and format your memory cards.
- Tell the story using what is already there.
- Always have your camera with you.
- Check the background
- Get the eye line right when photographing people.
This was an informative insight into a very different form of photography, far removed from the critical eye of a competition judge. More for the critical eye of the reader. Alan was given a hearty vote of thanks from the gathered members.