David Thorpe Photography

Professional Pix

Pictures for Money

Here are two pros at work I was booked to cover Barry Manilow's series of UK appearances at the Albert Hall in 1982. He was at the height of his UK fame and a sort of middle-aged ladies hsyteria was going. When you have exclusive coverage of something like this, all the papers are on to you wanting exclusive material. It's difficult. You don't want to upset anyone, they're your clients. On the other hand, you have to do the best for the people you are working for.

I supplied everyone with concert pix of Manilow (I was the only one allowed to do them. I went around London with him, took pictures with disabled kids and all the things that a visiting American star will do in the UK.

This particular night, some of the money Manilow was making for the show would be donated to Princess Alexandra's children's charity. Manilow and the Princess would meet after the show in one of the hospitality rooms. It was dull and formal. I tried to organise a picture but it wasn't happening. Angus Ogilvy, the Princess's husband came over to me and asked if I was getting what I needed. I said I wasn't. Don't worry, he said, she'll liven it up in a minute. She then started making jokes, really putting her back into it and carrying everyone with her, being a bit silly really. It infected everyone and the room was full of laughing. It made the pic I needed and a half page in The Sun the next day.The Mirror was furious. You can't please all of the people all of the time. And the Sun was simply the bigger paper at the time.

I learned an important lesson about human nature during the Manilow concerts. I met Manilow before one of the shows and gave him some prints of the Alexandra stuff and the other things we had been doing. Then I went up front of house to do the live concert stuff.

After the show, as the audience were leaving, I was packing my cameras away. A woman noticed that I had a few prints in my case. They were the less good stuff that I didn't want Manilow to see. Any photographer knows that one of the best ways to establish yourself as a talent is to show people only your best pictures. That way, they think you only take good pictures. Your printer knows better, of course. He sees the negs. That is why no photographer is a hero to his printer.

Anyway, this lady asked if she could have one of the prints. She was then immediately joined by another Manilow fanatic. Could she have one? I only had about half a dozen gash prints and I was a bit miffed, on giving them out, that only a couple of the women bothered to say thank you. They just took them. Then, when I'd given out the lot, the next woman asked if she could have one. I said I didn't have any more. "You mean bastard", she said, and glared at me. I shut my camera case and left the auditorium. That was the last print I ever gave away.
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