Local newspaper photographers have a very literal way of interpreting their subjects. They are the Pan’s People of journalism.
When we issue a press release a phone call from the local papers will follow, asking when they can send a photographer round. Which is excellent and very supportive of them. They will then want someone to pose in the photograph, to illustrate the subject matter at hand. This is the point at which all other staff members swiftly vanish. I am not as quick or wily as they, so end up starring in most of our press photos. I will usually be asked to hold up something pertaining to the story, and to smile a lot.
“And smile a bit more,” the photographer will say. “And can you hold that up a bit higher….little bit higher…and really smile….lovely!” I stand there, arms aching, eyes crinkled (it is a pre-requisite that I have to face the sun) knowing this is going to be another corker. There is always much hilarity when the local paper arrives in the office. Another two photo opportunities and I can release my own amusing calendar.
Here are my Top Ten Worst Local Press Photos:
1. The Huge Damson-Picking Claw – me holding aloft a sprig of damsons, with the perspective such that I have an enormous, burly forearm, bigger than my entire body.
2. Valentines Day - me, alone, on a blanket, holding aloft a big cardboard heart, with a fake picnic laid out before me, featuring an entire cake. The cake is in the foreground so it looks as massive as my huge damson-picking claw. I look like a comfort-eating, lonely nutjob.
3. The Food Fair – me holding aloft a tray of cakes. I am smiling with my eyes closed (presumably in blissful anticipation of comfort-eating all the cakes).
4. Easter – me holding aloft a big golden Easter Egg. And grinning at it.
5. Launch of New Room – me holding a portrait of the donor of the house, not quite aloft, more to one side of my body, almost like I am cuddling it.
6. Blossom Event – there was no blossom. Bloody late spring. So the picture is of me, holding aloft a branch, with a bud. And grinning at it.
7. “Bats Swoop and Poop” – yes, this one had a caption as crap as the picture – me holding aloft one of the dustcovers I use to protect the house contents from bat poo. And grinning. I love poo, me.
8. Wildlife Rescue – me holding aloft a hedgehog and grinning at it (trying not to betray the intense pain of a thousand prickly spines piercing my hands).
9. World War II Event – me dressed as a Land Army Girl, holding aloft a shovel and a basket of vegetables. I had to make my own outfit as I hadn't known until two hours prior to the photographer arriving that I was going to be dressed as a Land Army Girl. Which is why I have a blue and white duster on my head.
10. Christmas Event – me, alone, under a massive bunch of mistletoe. The mistletoe was actually hung securely on some string, but they made me stand beneath it with my arms aloft, as if embracing it, to somehow enhance the experience for everyone.
Regular readers of the local newspapers must have formed the impression that I am a cake consuming, inanely grinning loner with an unnatural fondness for inanimate objects, poo and small mammals. You'd think my visitor numbers would be up, really.