I'm really proud that a photography project I began in 2014 and ended up in a box and nearly forgotten about is finally on show at an exhibition in London
My fulltime career at the BBC was coming to an end in 2014 and I was focusing more on photography; reading, shooting whenever I could and making sure I’d taken all of my 10,000 worst photos.
Cartier-Bresson insists much of a photographer’s early work is the pits.
At the time, sitting in the output gallery at Broadcasting House, I spotted another of Cartier-Bresson’s famous tropes - the decisive moment.
I noticed how, as the seconds disappeared and the headlines approached, the news presenters would stiffen, focus and transform.
They went from being a person sat in a room with cameras, to becoming the sole focus of a studio and speaking to millions. It was, and remains, compelling to see.
And so ‘One Minute To Go’ was born.
I set about trying to capture the decisive moment a news presenter transformed as they went on air. I assume it’s the same moment any actor or public speaker or sportsman experiences in the seconds before they perform.
Stalking various television studios, I snapped my way through many household names until I entered one of the photos into the annual Taylor Wessing National Portrait Prize.
It became a finalist and hung in the National Portrait Gallery. It was featured in newspapers and books. People tweeted about it.
During the Taylor Wessing exhibition I went to South Africa for several months and unfortunately the project stalled.
Over the years my photographic practice had changed. ‘One Minute To Go’ didn’t have much of a place amongst male model sixpacks and photos of beautiful women in Calvin Klein underwear.
Many of the photos ended up on a hard drive in a box and were never seen in their entirety.
Until Alex Sinker, an editor at the BBC introduced me to her pal, the actor David Westhead.
I know Alex from my time at the Corporation – we worked together in South Africa. David plays the boss of news in the BBC spoof W1A and is Alex’s fictional boss. David runs a charity that helps young photographers in Soweto reach their potential. I am a photographer from South Africa.
Any better synergy and I would have be guaranteed a lottery win!
I’m delighted to donate prints of the photos for David to auction for his charity The Wembley To Soweto Foundation as well as BBC Media Action.
It’s wonderful that after all these years, the project can finally be seen by the public and do some good. Although ‘One Minute To Go’ bears scant relation to my current photographic practice I’m delighted to show it.
The project is bitter sweet too.
With a solo exhibition from it, the newspaper and magazine commissions that followed it and it's place in the National Portrait Gallery, maybe 'One Minute To Go' was the moment I transformed from a snapper with a camera to serious photographer.
It told me I'd taken my first 10,000 photos. Cartier-Bresson was right.