I’ve just returned from taking some photos of the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire. What started as the initial stage of Le Tour de France in 2014 ‘Le Grand Dèpart’ has become an annual outing and gaining more and more international prominence. It attracts many of the world’s best riders and is a great tourist boost to dear old Yorkshire.
My main employment is with an emergency service. This service provides support for the Tour and is a feather in our cap worthy of shouting about. Consequently, I volunteered to take some (hopefully) decent quality photos of our staff supporting the tour so we can use them in subsequent publicity for the service.
Following on from the great success of the high viz jacket at the St Patrick’s Day Parade, I acquired a high viz ‘service’ jacket to ensure my safety on the highway and to promote confidence in the organisers as I ask them if I can get in good places to take photos. It wasn’t waterproof, or hailstone proof, as I discovered, but it was a good over-jacket for my own warm coat. It was also an excellent entry card to the best photo spots.
I take wearing the uniform of my ‘service’ seriously and always act with professionalism. I am polite, respectful and always follow instructions, including from organisers of events such as the ‘Tour’. However, what I found was just by wearing a ‘service’ jacket, complete with organisation logos etc. I was ushered in to the places where the general public couldn’t go. It didn’t always work and I was turned away from the VIP enclosure, but I was able to go to other excellent places to take my photos.
My main purpose in attending the event was to take some good photos of our staff and their vehicles. I managed to achieve that and I’m pleased with the results. However, I was also in a brilliant place to take some great photos of the riders and the event. How many regular non accredited photographers get to stand one metre away from a world champion rider and have him look into your lens as you take his photo? This is the first time I have done anything quite like this and I didn’t know what to expect. It could have been a non-event but it wasn’t. It was brilliant and I’m delighted with my photos.
Learning from past experiences, I took on the role of ace photographer who was supposed to be in the best places. I tried to convince myself in the hope I would convince everyone else. And I managed it. I didn’t go where I wasn’t supposed to, but where I wanted to go I asked if I could and was mainly given permission. I realised it was the confidence to actually ask without flinching that got me where I did. I gained that confidence from street photography and overcoming the fear of an adverse reaction – which rarely comes.
One funny moment was when I had been waiting for nearly two hours at the finish line, at what I frankly considered to be the best spot of all, when a guy came up to me just before the riders were arriving and told me I had to move to one side so he could get his photos. He told me he was “a proper photographer”. I totally get where he was coming from, it’s his living. After an initial bit of irritation, I laughed out loud (inside my mind). I actually wanted to tell him where he could get off but I guessed from his attitude he would kick up a fuss and get me thrown out of the enclosure not being accredited and it would also have been improper whilst wearing the uniform. Therefore I bit my tongue. But at least I got a laugh out of it, and there was in fact enough room for both of us.
On the actual day of the event, I almost didn’t go because I could only see being told to go away when I tried to get in good spots and it turning into a waste of time. But I forced myself out of my comfort zone and it paid off big time. I will remember this experience next time I want to do something that challenges me and I get the jitters. Sometimes, confidence is everything.