A Trip down Memory Lane

blog-EditI began my professional photography career in 1987, the job was advertised as ‘Entertainment and Nightclub Photographer’ and it stated, quite clearly, that applicants must be over the age of 21 – I was 17 at the time, but applied anyway, lied about my age and experience and got the job. The Isle of Man was a very different place in 1987 – every other building on Douglas promenade was a hotel, guesthouse or pub, and in the summer the island’s capital would be rammed full with holidaymakers. Drunk holidaymakers. Of course, in 1987 not everyone had a camera in their pocket, so my job was to document their alcohol fuelled nights out for them – I would approach a table, ask the inebriated revellers if they’d like a photo, and if they replied in the affirmative I would take a single shot, they’d hand-over £2.50 and I’d give them a ticket and instructions as to where they could claim their 5×7 inch print the next day. It always amazed me how many people actually remembered and picked their prints up – or rather how many didn’t remember.

My equipment that summer was basic – I was expecting a motor-driven Nikon F3, Metz hammerhead flash and a selection of fast, prime lenses to choose from – which in my head I’d be allowed to keep at the end of the summer as a thank you for my hard work… but no, and I’m sure you can only imagine the crushing disappointment I felt as I was handed an Olympus Trip 35. I honestly thought it was a joke and started laughing. It wasn’t a joke.

Two weeks into the job I was called into Island Photographic’s shop for ‘a chat’ – the first thing the boss asked me was hold old I was, I confessed to being a minor, that I’d be 18 in a few weeks (I wasn’t actually 18 for another 4 months) and that I wasn’t even close to being 21. To my surprise, I wasn’t sacked on the spot, but then again I was making a lot of money for the company. Instead I had to promise I wouldn’t go into any of the places with an over 21 rule, such as the bar underneath the casino, Whispers Nightclub. Within two nights I was back photographing in all the usual places, which included Whispers.

That was a great summer, my days completely shifted round – up all night, sleep all day. I also earned a considerable sum of cash… I earned 25% of everything I took and with it I bought my first ‘proper’ professional camera – a Nikon F3.

The images in this article have nothing to do with this story, I just thought I’d show some of the work I’ve shot professionally over the last few weeks. I would like to see some of those photos I took in 1987 though, there must be some lying around, somewhere?

Oh, Island Photographic upgraded to more modern equipment in 1988, so at the end of the ’87 summer season I was allowed to keep my camera as a thank you for all of my hard work…

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16 comments

  1. Julia Callow

    My dad was one of the band members in the band in Whispers in 1987 (JC Combo), with a great girl singer called Antonella. Remember as I was 18 that year so was allowed in!

    Like

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