News Flash! – A selection of Photographs taken from Dave Jamieson’s 34 year career as a Press photographer with the Evening Gazette.
Is it art, I wondered, as I arrived at We Are Open's latest photography exhibition. The Gazette is known for many things, but not particularly for an artistic flair when it comes to their photography. What I was met with was a wonderful combination of subtle humour, intimate moments, animated expressions, and dramatic events, captured perfectly in iconic black and white. Of course its art, how could you ever doubt it?
Every photograph has a narrative, a story, a sequence of events leading up to a one-off snap. This exhibition is an example of when documentary photography is done well, it can draw you back to a time and a place, and leave you feeling nostalgic for something you never even experienced in the first place. I’m far too young to remember half of the events or people in these photographs, but I know of them…My grandma told me about that! My mother was there! I know that street! I’ve been there! I’ve read about that, my dad has a photo of himself at that exact same place!
What we have here is a brief history of the North East in stunning press photography, every budding photographer should go and see how it’s done properly, and everyone else should just go see it. Ask Dave Jamieson for a guided tour.
It’s our history, and it’s never looked so good.
We Caught up with Dave Jamieson for a chat about his exhibition.....
We Are Open: So tell us a bit about how the exhibition started, it was in Stockton before coming here wasn't it?
Dave: I held this exhibition over in Stockton before Christmas, it was very successful. There is a lot of my work from the 34 years I was at the Gazette as a press photographer.
What started this exhibition off was the talks I was giving to camera clubs about press photography, what sort of pictures were needed…etc. These were some of the pictures I was showing to them, and I thought, why not exhibit them?
We Are Open: Do you have a Favourite picture?
Yes I do, believe it or not it’s this one that I call ‘The Cannon Street Kids’ which I took years ago when Cannon street was just being knocked down. One day I saw these kids playing there and I just thought, they’ve got great faces, and to me it’s just got quality, the scruffiness, the look on their faces...
We Are Open: Did you go stand under the elephant?
I Lay down under the elephant! On the ground and shuffled underneath, then got his trainer to shout. When he lifted his leg up and I pushed myself right under there very fast, took the pic, then got out.
We Are Open: Were you sent by the Gazette to take these? Or was it on your own initiative?
A lot of them were my own initiative, just sudden ideas you come up with, like the 'Mothers Day' one……
We Are Open: The guy with the flowers?
Yes. That was mothers day, I saw him walking around Stockton for ages and I kept thinking….I know I’ll do with him, so I went and bought those daffodils. I found him with his mates and I asked him for a picture, He said nah. So I said I’ll tell you what I’ll give you two quid …..ALL RIGHT! He said…Haha.
In fact, not long after that he was in the papers again, he dived into the Tees at Stockton to save a guys life. And about 8 – 10 years ago, he got in the wrong crowd and was murdered over drugs.
We Are Open: Did they use this picture in the Gazette?
Others like these sports ones you get sent to do. This kickboxing picture, he was going in for the European kickboxing championships, so I sort of thought up the idea of him training with British steel at Redcar in the background.
We Are Open: It’s very iconic.
I was very please to get that, you have to imagine in those days we didn’t have great photographic equipment. We didn’t have digital cameras with super lenses.
We Are Open: Did it take a few shots or did you get it first time?
I was pretty lucky, we worked it out first, I got him to stand, I focused the camera, and got him to jump. It took about five or six shots.
Then you’ve got other (pictures) where you suddenly see something and you just take it, that’s what you’ve got to do.
We Are Open: Some of them are quite dramatic, you must have had to be on the scene very quickly.
That was lucky that one, A night club which also had the bowling ally up Linthrorphe road caught fire. It was a Saturday, and I was chief photographer at the time.
I’d nipped to a bar for a couple of pints and I heard this boom and someone ran into the bar and said, get out there, there’s a fire….
So I ran up the road, it was really dramatic, you could feel the heat from where we were standing. After that I went to the top of the tower at the university and did a long shot from up there in black and white.
We Are Open: So, have you always got your Camera with you?
Yeah, Always carry your camera with you, even if its one of the smaller ones. I always have a camera with me.
We Are Open: Who’s this?
This was from the New Port Jazz festival, which was at Ayesome Park in 1978
The Newport Jazz festival was a big thing in London, there was a Middlesbrough councillor who was really into Jazz and he got an arrangement where once they’d done their show down in London, they would all then come up to Middlesbrough the following day. Of course we got some of the biggest names in jazz, Buddy Rich, he was the best jazz drummer in the world at the time. There’s a picture of Lionel Hampton who was on the xylophone, Ella Fitzgerald there, and down there is a snapshot of a couple there who were kissing in the dug out.
We Are Open: There are elements of humour in your work, in a lot of your photos.
Yes I try to do that, its not all doom and gloom, again this photo was my idea, I thought well they’re iron monsters, and the steel industry in Middlesbrough was disappearing, and the shipping industry, and this was my idea of it devouring the industry.
We are Open: It’s like there's a little narrative in the pictures.
This is Billingham Festival, I was lucky with this one, this was the Russian Ambassador who was there to give a speech. He was over the other side of the room, when I went round the corner ( the room was really hot ) and saw this little dancer had fallen asleep. So I got the Russian ambassador to come and look over him although he was looking at the pictures…
That there was an Israeli girl who just looked so beautiful, she was just stood looking at something, I just put a long lens on to diffuse the background and make her stand out.
This picture was published in the World Press Photos Yearbook. Every year photographs come in from all over the world…Its quite an honour to be published.
(At another wall of the exhibition)
Round this corner we’ve got a bit of royalty, (this photo is of) the Duke of Edinburgh at Preston park, and the rain started and no one bothered about the Duke. They all stuck their umbrellas up and left him to get a soaking. (The Duke is sat surrounded by people with umbrellas, and is indeed getting a bit wet)
Here is the young Prince Charles, in Middlesbrough.
We Are Open: Was he opening something?
Yes he was opening the…I cant remember the place…(Charles is peeking around a door and smiling) The reason I got that expression was...well its all very formal when you’re with royalty, and he was just going in this door here when a woman further up shouted “ CHARLIE” and he sort of heard it and he came out like that to look and see who it was.
We are open: And you got him?
If you want to see the whole exhibition of Dave Jamieson’s work, it is currently at The Pop Up Gallery ( 148 Linthorpe Road) until February the 5th.
Open Week days (and Saturday) 10 til 5
Blogged with thanks to Dave for patiently talking me through his photos.
by Aimee Charlotte.