Dean O'Brien's Blog

Day 8: Working at the Coventry Telegraph 13/4/11

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Today I arrive at the office for another day of work.  Its quiet first thing and I get the chance to talk to photographer James Balfour.  James has been at the Coventry Telegraph around 12 years and gives me a great insight into working at the paper.


My first job today is to photograph Andy Littlewood who is running a ‘Pump Up The Pumpkin’ challenge by selling envelopes of seeds to budding gardeners.  I go and talk to Mary Griffin (Environment reporter) at the Coventry Telegraph to ask what kind of shots she is after.  Bizarrely enough I already knew Mary via Twitter but this is the first time we had actually spoken face to face.  Mary described what the shots needed to show and I headed off from there.  Andy holding the seeds with preferably some greenery in the background sounded simple enough.

In typical British fashion it started to rain just as I went outside to do the shoot.  Luckily I had my lens hood with me (something I had forgotten in the past) and this manged to keep the lens rain free.  I also got Andy to stand facing the way in which the rain was coming from to ensure it stayed that way.  Yes, I’m a real gent at times!

I get back to the office to look at the images on screen.  I have a few good ones although I could have done better.  I had a great one of Andy holding the seeds towards the camera and had managed to create a shallow depth of field on the image.  However, Andy’s face was sharp and the seeds in the hand were soft.  I wanted it to be the other way round.  With the seeds being the main focal point.  That would have been the best shot by a mile.  I knew technically how to do it but I think the rain distracted me slightly.  Its no excuse and I chalk it up as a lesson learnt.

I process the remaining images, which are still worthy contenders and upload them.  Like anything in life, there is always the one that got away.


I am accompanying Mark Radford to photograph Ed Miliband, current leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition who is visiting University Hospital in Coventry.  We arrive in good time and head to reception to wait for someone from the hospital’s communications department to meet us.  We then head up to the third floor where Ed is wandering amongst the wards and talking to staff and patients.  I manage to grab a few shots in the hallway between the wards but nothing that really nailed it.  Ed then poses for a few shots and I manage to grab some half decent portraits.  I know that timing is an important factor with these types of shoots.  When I was shooting Jeremy Vine and Jon Snow last year I only had a couple of minutes to get ‘the’ shot else the chance was gone.  It took what I had learnt from these shots and applied that today whilst shooting Ed.

On the way back it gives me an opportunity to talk to Mark about the job and get some feedback on my performance so far.  He’s happy with me and told me that other photographer’s were also happy working with me.  That they could see that I had a genuine interest in the job.  That gave me a great feeling and I have stressed that I would like to continue working at the paper to gain more experience in the field.


A job has come in for some images to be taken of a scene were 4 people were stabbed in a fight.  Its a ‘scene setter’.  Its not too far from the Coventry Telegraph offices so I head off on foot.  When I arrive at the scene I locate security at the Skydome to find the exact location of where the attack took place.  This was great as the security guard on hand also showed me where there were still large traces of blood on the floor.  I take a range of images and head back to the office.

Back at the office I grab a copy of todays paper and see that my image of Lady Godiva taken the day before has been used and credited.  Its a great feeling.  As with the end of every day here I check that all the images taken that day are uploaded via picdar onto the system.  Grab my bag and head for the door…..I’m already looking forward to tomorrow.


Written by Dean O'Brien

April 13, 2011 at 10:42 pm

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