Newsroom

The stories behind the pictures

In an age of Leveson, hacking and sensationalist journalism, it is all too easy to forget why any of us got into this job in the first place.

Journalists, the good ones, are in this game to tell the story. And that includes the pictures which will always say more than words ever could.

Imagine hearing about Superstorm Sandy without the photos of iconic New York, with its yellow taxis under water, or describing the events of 9/11 without the unforgettable image of the second plane hitting the Twin Towers.

Think about the pick-up pictures of April Jones in her purple coat which spread across the front pages before ending in shop windows and on lamp posts across Mid Wales.

And what about the still-by-still reporting of the destruction of the Saddam Hussein statue in Central Baghdad; images which represented the toppling of a regime which needed no extra words to explain their significance.

Photojournalists don’t have time to craft their story. They don’t have time to decide how they’re going to start telling it either. Their reporting of the story is as close to truth as you can get, because they, with a twist of the lens and a click of the shutter, are recording an exact snapshot in time. The great ones are working on instinct, feel and an uncanny ability to read a situation and see things that other eyes miss.

Last month, the National Council for the Training of Journalists held an event in London where budding press photographers met up with some of the intake from the very first NCTJ Press Photographers course in 1964.

Among them were well-known celebrity photographer Brian Aris and Las Vegas-based Ian Wright, whose work has appeared in the Sunday Times, Newsweek and Time magazine to name just a few.

Also at the reunion was a photographer who, at the time, was a young trainee at the Express & Star. He also won the first ever scholarship from the Commonwealth Press Union to join the news teams at papers in east and west Africa. He later moved to the Shropshire Star as chief photographer before a 34 year career with the Daily Mail which was reported on by the NCTJ website in recent days.

Working in more than 60 countries across the world, covering stories from wars to royal weddings and World Cup football tournaments to uprisings and revolutions, this photojournalist’s pictures tell not only the story of other people’s lives but that of his own.

Readers saw the front page photos of the babies lying still, too traumatised to cry and unfed in the bullet-hit orphanage in Romania during the revolution of 1989.

They saw images of rows of tanks left abandoned by the foot soldiers of Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan after a bombing raid.

They saw the harrowing pictures coming out of Cyprus in 1974 as war broke out.

What they wouldn’t know was that the photographer put down his camera to bottle-feed one of those orphans, months later becoming his godfather after the baby was rescued and adopted in the UK.

The readers don’t know that turning off the road in a convoy from Jalalabad to Kabul to photograph those abandoned tanks meant that the photographer escaped an attack by the Taliban which killed four fellow journalists.

And they would have had no idea that working in Cyprus during the coup meant that he was around to see his first daughter born but then had to leave to cover a war where there was no means of calling home for weeks on end.

Ironically, years later, the same daughter was working on a news desk when the PA snap on the convoy attack in Afghanistan came across the wire. She was also the one he called on the satellite phone as soon as he could asking her to please tell her mother he was okay – but only after wiring the images to the picture desk in London.

As with all good journalists, the story comes first, your own story later.

The photographer is Brian Bould, my dad. The daughter on the news desk was me. So it is without apology that this blog is dedicated to the tellers of stories with cameras……and one in particular.

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