Stock shots from the archive: Press photographers
It's time for another rummage in the photographic files held in the basement of Television Centre in West London. The News Stills Archive began life in the late 1960s and each week I pull a few pictures from the files on a particular subject, this week I have been looking at those filed under press photographers.
Picture archives have their own lifecycle. Photographs that are more than 30-years-old are seen as important records of life at that time, and anything under five-years-old is current. The problem period is the in-between years, a time when pictures are out of date and yet not old enough to have nostalgia value. It's these pictures that should be safeguarded, for their time will come.
Getting back to the task in hand, there are 155 slides held on file under the heading Press: Photographers. Most of the pictures seem to have been snapped by the BBC staff photographers whilst on other assignments, possibly to fill the time and most likely as a record of their colleagues in the press pack.
As with many photographers I find an interest in the old photographic equipment on view, but it's the poses of photographers waiting that I also find fascinating. Anyone who has door-stepped someone or just waited for a press conference to begin will know that once you've claimed your spot you just have to wait for something to happen. Then you get a sudden burst of activity at 1/250th of a second and it's off to file your pictures.
So, let's look at a few of the images.
This picture below is one of the earliest on file and shows a group of photographers peering over a wall? The card index simply states: Hunting Jacky (sic) Onassis. The photographer is not listed and the date is also missing but must be around 1969.
The next two pictures were taken at the wedding of actor Peter Sellers on 24 August 1970. The index does not list the name of his wife to be, but given the date it's easy to check and was in fact his marriage to Miranda Quarry, an Australian model. The couple divorced in 1974.
The event looks like a real "bun fight" as photographers jostle to get a shot. No digital spray and hope techniques here, many are photographers are without even a motor-drive. The photographer is just listed by his, or maybe her, surname, Woodgate. You can see Peter Sellers clearly in the centre of the frame so they did a good job.
This next photo shows a regular event on the photographers' calendar, the Windsor Horse Trials, which offered photographers a chance to get up close to Her Majesty. An interesting photo this one and I like the way it seems all the photographers are ignoring the Queen. This was taken in 1975 by BBC photographer Willie Smith who I remember well.
Here the photographers take a break between events at Windsor.
The poses of these photographers are hard to ignore and the TV cameraman seems out of place in his light jacket. Yet this simple picture leads to a big news story as they are outside Bow Street Court on 18 July 1975 waiting for the arrival of Labour MP John Stonehouse and his former secretary, Sheila Buckley. The full story came to light in 2005 with the release of official documents by the National Archives.
Another annual event is of course the Budget and in the past the chancellor would invite photographers into his office and then go on a walk about with his family. Here Labour chancellor Denis Healey poses in April 1978.
The last picture of interest was taken in 1979 and shows actress Lalla Ward facing a pack of photographers who all seem to have found a different angle, as none are pointing their lenses the same way. Lalla is best known for her role as Romana in Dr Who where she played alongside Tom Baker, who she later married, and divorced. The picture was taken by BBC staff photographer Gerry Hawkins.
Do you recognise any of the photographers? If so, please leave a comment.
If you have a subject you'd like me to dig around in the stills collection for then do let me know.