Monday, 16 July 2012

The Snappers

A gorgeous and brilliant friend of mine, Catherine Merchant, works for ABC Radio National. She recently produced this program called The Snappers. Check it out. 

This program recalls an almost forgotten era of media social history—of men and women who were passionate to the point of reckless about their profession, about the next big picture, who rubbed shoulders with cops and crims alike, and bonded amid the glamour of the celebrity set, or the tragedy of a grisly crime scene.

Says Merchant:

"The Snapper’s is a revisit and a celebration of the wild and woolly days of Australian press photography in pre digital times. Some would call these the halcyon days of papers and magazines.
These days so many of us have an interest in photography..there are 6000 photos a minute loaded up onto the photo site flicker, but what was required of our snappers in the halcyon days of newspapers and magazines?
These were the times when just getting the film back to the office might involve more than a stroke of genius..the days when the pub was the other office, and practical jokes were a part of life. The era when Rupert Murdoch was looking over your shoulder and Frank Packer was calling you into his office.
When I began looking into my late father’s lifetime occupation, I heard about Damon Runyon style characters who congregated on jobs and bonded in darkrooms. They were people who predated OH&S and made up their own rules. Characters, who were prepared to do anything to get the shot despite limited technology. They were up close and personal with Australian life and they lived and breathed our history through their camera lenses.
Despite the fact photographers prior to the 70’s were often considered like tradesmen, there work was vital as nobody was tweeting photos of huge events around the world or daily life.
It occurred to me If you were a photographer who lived through all the technical changes that occurred in photography from the 30’s and 40’s to 2000, it would be like going from flying a tiger moth to a jet plane..
In producing this story, I found a family I never realised I had. I dedicated it to the late Cliff Neville who believed I ought to make it a much bigger project.
The response to the program was wonderful. So many people wrote in to me personally and there were 20 comments from different listeners on the website."