Our speaker, Deborah Brady, gave us an illustrated talk on what life was like as a female photojournalist in Fleet Street. Deborah, a former national press photographer, covered some of the biggest stories of the late 80’s and 90’s. She focused on news, features and her favourite, sport, for the London papers.
As with many situations, it is a case of being in the right place at the right time. During her first trial week with a Daily National paper, she managed to do just that. She was sent to photograph the fans of Michael Jackson at Heathrow airport. Managing to elbow her way through the crowd she realised she was in a great position to photograph the star himself. Needless to say, the professional staff photographer sent from the paper wasn’t so lucky.
On being invited to stay for a week Deborah was then sent to the High Court to cover the case between Jenny Seagrove and Michael Winner. Her photograph of a very vulnerable Jenny Seagrove emerging from the High Court gave her career an enormous boost. Importantly it also spread her name around Fleet Street.
Deborah entertained us with several stories of her interesting workaday life and how her particular skills produced headline-grabbing images. One such story was of a very frightened housewife who had discovered what turned out to be Britain’s biggest spider! After confirming the spider was no longer living the housewife was persuaded to pose holding the dead spider close to her face with a suitably shocked expression.
Another amusing story was of the extraction by four burly firemen of a little boy who had got well and truly stuck in the cat flap. After being rescued the little boy naturally didn’t want to put his head through the opening again for the photo, but Deborah managed to get a fabulous shot of him just peeping through.
Of course, many of the situations that Deborah found herself in were really harrowing; she covered major car & plane crashes, and terrifying scenes such as the day she was caught up in the Hungerford massacre. On a lighter note, she really enjoyed capturing the movement in sports features, especially cricket.
Deborah then demonstrated how much equipment she and her fellow photographers carried around in their work. To do this, one by one, she loaded our very plucky volunteer, Caroline Wilson (President) with all the items required. These included cameras, battery charger for flashguns, large shoulder bag full of films etc and a huge 600mm lens. By now Caroline is buckling under the weight but finds she now has to shoulder a step-ladder or two plus a large chain!
To a huge round of applause, Caroline proceeded to extricate herself from all the equipment and with great relief passed it all back to Deborah. We learnt that the key to Deborah’s skill was to always be ready to capture the image that would tell the world the story.
On Tuesday 26th June, Andrew Babicz will tell us about the Great Gardens of Great Britain. Details of all meetings and speakers are on the calendar of the home page of this website. If you would like further information about PAWS please ring either of the following committee members: