Observer picture editor Greg Whitmore, who is leaving the newspaper, looks back at the photos that made the news during his quarter century at the helm of the picture desk.
Absolutely honoured to have my work featured in this gallery of images, spanning 25 years of our modern history. The honour is even more amplified when I look at the phenomenally powerful work from talented and devoted colleagues with whom I’m sharing the page, but also by the fact that the gallery was curated by such an extremely well respected and talented picture editor with true Fleet Street heritage.
You can see the gallery here and also read about the legendary Greg Whitmore’s experiences at The Observer here, covering his near 30 years at the paper.
You can read more about London’s darkest hour in recent history and my experiences on that day, here. The same photograph from this awful day was called one of the world’s most iconic photographs by the Daily Mirror.
Shooting The International Launch Campaign For Panasonic Lumix; Seven Weeks With The Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f2.8 (Pre-Production) Lens
“Mmmmm, this is going to be special”. This was what I said to myself as soon as I looked at the the very first test frame I shot with the lens on my Lumix S1R. Followed by, “Its so sharp!”. This was a very good way to start shooting with a brand new lens. In fact, a pre-production model at that, with early, pre-production firmware.
I felt rather honoured when Panasonic Lumix UK got in touch to see if I’d like to test out the unreleased S Pro 24-70mm f2.8, ahead of it’s global launch on August 28th, 2019, which was around 1.5 months away. Unboxing the generic brown box, cutting away the bubble wrap, revealed the new lens. I found out the lens had been carried by hand, all the way from Japan! I got out some black tape, covered up all the markings and began shooting.
It’s a bit of a special feeling knowing only a handful of people globally have seen the lens and I’ve been asked to test it and make images with it to be used for the global launch campaign. It’s also quite stressful, knowing photographs have to be made to not only showcase, but live up to every aspect of what was already proving to be a spectacularly good lens.
One of the characteristics that hit me as I begun shooting more and more, was that this wasn’t just a sharp lens, but it had something special. Pure clinical sharpness is ok for forensic type photography, but for being creative, for conveying mood, for sharing a story, one also needs gentleness, subtlety and grace. The rendering from this lens has all of that.
Generally, a 24-70mm f2.8, is a bread and butter lens; pretty much everyone will have one in their bag and it’s the standard professional zoom. Versatile, useful and a safe choice. What I found special though, was this wasn’t just a bread and butter lens. Where one may have a standard zoom for safety, one would also have a special prime with nicer rendering, for making those special portraits or creative shots.
Well, the S 24-70mm f2.8 has all of that. It’s truly special to have all these qualities wrapped up in one lens. Versatility and speed, but also beautiful rendering, colour, contrast, detail and well, a bit of poetry too. I found it captured light and colour beautifully and rendered a nicely soft background in out of focus areas. As much as I hate talking about this and using the word bokeh, it does have beautiful bokeh! (I need to add my dislike is purely based on people who only care about bokeh and nothing else, especially not the craft of photography).
It is chunky though. I felt the same way as when I first picked up the S Pro 50mm f1.4. Although I wished all of the S Series lenses could be a little smaller, just as with the S 50mm, as soon as I started shooting with the S 24-70mm, it justified it’s size and won a place in my camera bag. In fact, I pretty much didn’t shoot with anything else and seven weeks on, it’s always been mounted on either my S1 or S1R.
It just produces beautiful images and no matter what type of subject I point it at, it does as I ask and produces what I want. Fast to react and precise in rendering.
Super fast and silent AF, outstanding build quality and stunning optics. I have a feeling the scientific types at DxO Labs are going to enjoy putting this through their rigorous tests.
So please don’t read this small post as a review; it really is a quick preview. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Keep in mind though that this is a pre-production lens with early, non final firmware and so is definitely a pre-release lens. Yet, it helped make these images with grace. I can’t wait to get my hands on the final thing! If you have an L Mount camera, I suggest you try it too!
Thrilled to have two of my photographs selected by the curators of the BPPA’s (British Press Photographers’ Association) tremendously powerful and not to be missed, Assignments 2019 exhibition. The show is beautifully curated and thanks has to be given to the talented team of curators, comprised of some of the brightest beacons in the photojournalism industry. Many thanks to Tom Stoddart, John Downing, Nikki Sutherland, Lawrence Lustig and Julie Edwards.
At the private view of the exhibition, it was an absolute joy to meet Fleet Street’s legendary press photographer John Downing for the first time. He had been a huge inspiration for me and my ethos of never being without a camera came from reading about his work. When a colleague pointed out my photograph (The Joys Of Life), it was an absolute honour to hear him kindly praise the image, saying it was one that he had chosen personally and to hear his kind compliments about the composition, timing and light, pushed me to blush!
This photograph was made on a Panasonic Lumix G9 and Leica DG 50-200mm lens. The raw image was processed in Adobe Lightroom and the monochrome treatment was finished in Nik Collection’s Silver Efex Pro on an Apple Mac Pro and fully calibrated Eizo CG monitors.
The second image kindly chosen by the curators was of a homeless man, seemingly passed out from wine, after another hard day on the streets.
The photograph was shot on a Sony RX1RII camera. The raw image was processed in Adobe Lightroom and the monochrome treatment was finished in Alienskin Exposure X3, on an Apple Mac Pro and fully calibrated Eizo CG monitors.
It’s a very sad truth that sexism and racism is rife in the media. As a British photojournalist born in Iran and off Armenian descendants, I have lived in the UK since the age of eight. It’s very much my home and I’m extremely proud to be British and to contribute to society through my work, both professionally and in various volunteer basis, as well as numerous charitable contributions.
Through various publications, competitions and awards over the years, I have proven my ability as a photojournalist, yet sadly have never managed to make it past being a casual freelance photographer (meaning being commissioned daily) for the newspapers and agencies. I have several talented colleagues who are of various ethnic backgrounds who have the same struggles. The same discrimination is shown towards white, English female colleagues when contracts and big projects are filled. It is indeed rare to see someone of ethnicity or female photographers in good contract positions, the recipient of the top commissions or in possession of staff jobs (even when these were more abundant).
It truly is a shame that one’s ability and skill is often overseen, in place of one’s ethnicity or sex. After all, the reader or viewer sees the work, not the author. Its quite bizarre that over the last year, I decided to grow a long beard. Instead of this being seen as a trendy or hipster type thing, because of my slight tanned complexion, I could see a lot of people were judging me as some sort of religious extremist. Since shaving it off a couple of months ago, the reaction of the same people when seeing me is the polar opposite. Its quite sad really. Ignorance is most often not bliss.
Picture editors, editors, publishers and media owners need to look at the quality of work and ability of the photojournalist, not their ethnicity, sex, cultural background or religion. I’m definitely not one to condone positive discrimination either; quotas shouldn’t be filled based purely on one’s ethnicity or sex. I just think that the best person for the job should always get the job regardless of the colour of their skin or their sex.