Thought I would start this weeks blog from where I left off last time, with the Mayor. So whats the big deal you ask? Well for me, Im now repeating myself with that fixed grin on my face, is a big deal. As a Walsall lad, born and bred, fiercely proud of my roots, educated in The Birchills, to be asked to shoot the images of the incoming Mayor is up there. I remember meeting our Mayor as schoolboy in 1976 at Croft Street Juniors and being wowed by him. Never in a million years did I think I would end behind the scenes and playing a part in my own little way.
May 20th, my wedding anniversary was the date for the Mayor Making Ceremony. What a way to spend that eh? Anyhow, time was limited, this was a reportage job. I love this type of photography, no time to set up, no time to think. You rely on your instinct, this is pressure on. You are the sole photographer, papers need images asap, the press office need images, never mind all the other departments, you get one chance thats it. I have to say a huge thanks to the Mayors Secretary, Verity Edwards. She made my job a lot easier and helped me out get what I needed and I will be forever in her debt. Verity youre a star!
One of the moments that I will cherish is the outgoing Mayor, Dennis Anson, coming over saying ‘Hello Mark! Make sure I get some images’ Just great! I caught the last image of him in his chain before entering Council Chambers to hand over the reigns. This is a reportage image and in my opinion shows him at his best just before he entered there with the Chief Executive.
I was able to shoot during the speeches in the chamber and kept my disruption to a minimum, no flash and crept around the place, trying to keep quiet. Not easy with the camera and Im hardly subtle. So Dennis took the vote, our new man was in and time to exchange the robes, chains etc all behind closed doors in the Ante Chamber. There I was in the midst and I loved every minute of it. Back into the Chamber, acceptance speech made and back out again to robe the new Deputy Mayor. I remember at this point shooting the Deputy in front of me, spinning around, shooting the new Mayor who was directly behind me, click, click, click, getting some great off guard images.
So then back into the Chambers, a few more speeches and then out downstairs, to greet the great and the good. It was at this point my relationship with the new one clicked into place. I stood out of the way and made sure I got what was needed. Anything that he wanted, he nodded at me and away we went. This fast paced event suits my style of photography. From start to finish in just under two hours I was done. Amazing! Back home, send some images to the press and then out with my wife for an anniversary meal.
I spent the next day processing the images, burning discs, getting ready to deliver them to Verity. I scrapped in by the skin of my teeth for the deadline. Put the flames out!
My next date was on Friday. Now this was going to be good. I had to shoot the Press Images for 2013 – 2014. So I had an itinerary, happy, sad, here and there, this pose etc. Now, what really blew me away, in came the Mayor shook my hand said ‘Hello Mark, would you like a cup of tea?’ Here I was having tea made by the Mayor being introduced to his family and still trying to get ready for the shoot.
He was just great! Knew what he wanted, knew what I needed and made my job a dream. I wanted to get some incidental shots while I was there as the place is full of little details with some really fantastic history. So in between clothes changes I shot away. Soon enough my time was up and it was a wrap and time to head back to the office to process the images and get them back within 24 hours. I must have had a good time as I shot 180 frames. I was really pleased with the hit rate and had lots to choose from. So much so I had a hard time picking a favourite for here. The one I eventually chose was the Mayor in all his regalia, with the Walsall Crest of Arms in the background, a bit of a technical challenge this shot, but one that I had promised myself back in January when I was originally asked to do the shoot. I get to meet back up with him in a couple of weeks time when its the Mayors Civic Sunday, other local dignitaries will be invited along and local school children will be presented with a ‘Bun and shilling’.
Who said pride in Walsall was dead?