There are time in the life of a pro-photographer where you do not charge.
Yeah, I know right? I can’t believe I wrote that either. But there are, and this is one of those times.
Our friend Jo has been battling illness for a time now, we wouldn’t expect anything less from our Jo, she is one of life’s good guys and she is a battler.
But sometimes battlers need some free time from battling, this was one of those times, and one of those times not to charge, to sit back and experience, to capture the time, the day and absorb.
Jo is an AFC Bournemouth supporter and like most AFC Bournemouth supporters, she is a bit of a fanatic, so her friends at Royal Bournemouth Hospital, and the Acute Medical Unit (AMU) in particular were keen to give her a special day, a never seen before, once in a lifetime visit to the club to watch them train, to watch them play and to have lunch with them.
I was asked to tag along with my cameras in my hands. Naturally, I’d love to, I said, and I meant it too.
It’s an odd thing this football lark and I for one, being a huge rugby fan, look upon football and footballers as something to be ridiculed, to join the masses who feel that they are overpaid pre-maradonna’s, they take the money, lots of money, and they fall over at the first sight of a stiff breeze.
I can tell you that it is totally, 100% not like that.
These guys are good, damn good. Words such as kind, dedicated, intelligent, articulate, loyal, tough, hard-working, professional, business-like and so on, the words I thought I’d never use about footballers, can be squarely leveled at the players and the staff we met at AFC Bournemouth.
We were greeted at the front door by Peter Barry, First Team Player Liason Officer and Jo got the works, the red carpet treatment from start to finish. Now this wasn’t any ordinary visit, this was special, this was wandering into offices, changing rooms (void of naked players, the ladies repeated their disappointment). This was sitting having coffee in the players lounge with the players, this was in a private box watching them play on the ‘big pitch’ just for you (almost), this was a day that many fans would do the washing up for, for an entire month (men only apply on that one).
We met the top man, the man everyone is talking about, the inspirational Eddie Howe, and my, you can see why he is respected, nay, loved by the masses, there is an aura around the man, he just oozes friendliness and charm and inspiration, inspiration, that word, Eddie and Jo, two inspirational people, together in one place.
Throughout the day we were getting the gossip, learning the internal secrets of the club, how it works, how it functions, it was truly fascinating and West Ham, give me a call, actually, don’t.
As photographers, we should always be looking for a story, a hidden gem which just elevates the event, enhances the story, and I did this again today, I was determined to get ‘the’ shot.
The tag line of the club is Anything Is Possible – Together it’s everywhere. I considered that this could be written for Jo and her close family and friends, there is my true story, I thought, I’d gotten a reportage shot of Jo close to van with it written on the side, but the shot was just ok, not perfect by any means. Then, suddenly, the moment arose.
In the player lounge there is what I would best describe as ‘a tombola type spinning wheel thing with a clicky thing on the top’ (it’s the best I can do, sorry), there is a photo of each player on each of the segments, if they are fined, you know, not cleaning their boots, that sort of thing, Peter said, the wheel is spun which gives them a forfeit to perform something in the very lounge we sat in, like sing a song.
The tag line was in the middle of it and the shot you see at the top page is the finished item.
It was so, so apt as we are all there for Jo, together, and I’m delighted with the shot and extremely privileged to have been involved.
AFC Bournemouth fans, you should be very, very proud of your club, it is a very special thing, Royal Bournemouth Hospital and AMU, you should be proud of yourselves for organising this wonderful day.
And Jo, we are all with you, go get ’em girl…
…Anything Is Possible – Together