Press photography career
There can be no doubt that pictures can our change lives. One photograph in particular certainly had a profound effect on me and my press photographer career. When I first saw this picture, by Fleet Street photographer Ron Burton, it cemented my determination to work one day for a national daily newspaper. I was going to go to Fleet Street myself.
World’s first modern-day selfie?
Ron’s great image also just happened to be one of the world’s first selfies.
When I looked at a newspaper, it was rarely the newspaper articles themselves that captured my imagination. More interesting to me was how they had been photographed. Also the fact that a photographer was actually present at major news events. Here, in Ron Burton’s picture was the proof. Here was the face of the photographer himself – right at the centre of the action, flying with the Red Arrows. I certainly wanted a slice of that action in my press photography career. Inspired by this idea, I went from local newspapers to become the youngest photographer ever to be invited to join The Daily Express way back in 1973.
Golden Age of Fleet Street
Ron Burton was one of the ‘old school’ of press photographers; a gentleman and a professional through and through. He came from an ordinary working class background and rose, during the Golden Age of Fleet Street, to the very top of his chosen profession. Ron’s meticulous planning of every assignment and his daredevil courage in his pursuit of the picture was well known among his colleagues.
Ron’s photograph of the Red Arrows actually took six weeks to plan. He somehow managed to persuade the Red Arrows to fly in a ‘stepped-up’ formation so that he could get a better photograph – a dangerous manoeuvre because it is difficult for the pilots to get a clear view of each other.
British Press Photographer of the Year
The picture was part of Ron Burton’s portfolio that won him the coveted British Press Photographer of The Year Award in 1965. An award Ron was to win three times. I met Ron at one of these award ceremonies on one of the occasions I won the News and the Feature Sections. I’m proud to say that we became friends. I remember his pleasure when I told him just how much his picture had influenced by press photography career.
Read more about Fleet Street photographer Ron Burton
Sadly, Ron Burton is no longer with us, but many of his iconic newspaper photographs can be seen – and bought – on the website Life Behind the Lens website, which celebrates his press photography career.