So this was the idea – photograph the arrival on Teeside of the ship and then get it sent out to the newspapers. Simple idea, but some research and planning was needed. To start with, this story had potential to reach the nationals. It had some good ingredients…A massive French naval vessel, jobs generated in a time of economic troubles, a huge environmental risk due to the asbestos, previous ships from the US Naval reserve have come to the same firm in the past. All good parts to a story.
So research was first, I went online and started googling the Clemenceau to find out what it was and get some background. After that it was onto the Able UK website to get some contact details. I managed to get the number of a press officer for the company and ended up calling him over the last couple of days before the ship arrived for any last minute updates.
I also had the opportunity to get onto a boat with a ‘press pool’ and shoot from the water but I didn’t want to do this for a couple of reasons, firstly, it might take too long to get back and file my pictures, secondly, if a lot of the other photographers were doing this I wanted to try and get something different.
Another way of checking on the progress of the ship and keeping track of regular updates was by checking the posts on their website, a screen shot of which is below…
So this all helped me to determine when it was going to come in, at least to within a couple of hours, I knew where it was going to come in and I know the area so I had a couple of possible shot ideas in my mind that might work. Of course any number of things could spoil it so it’s best not to firmly adhere to your preconceived shot ideas and remain flexible.
It pays to be early when possible so I went down there about an hour before the given time of the ships’ arrival, I knew that it was going to be on because I had seen the ship far out at sea earlier that day moving slowly along on the horizon, when I had walked to the papershop to get a morning paper. It was held out to sea until the tide was high enough to allow it to be towed in.
By the time it came in I was there and ready to shoot. My plan was to cover it all the way in, I had some shot ideas and depending on who turned up to watch there would be some shots showing members of the public or even possible protests from environmental groups but I knew this to be unlikely as these groups had accepted that Teeside was a better option than dumping her on some beach in India.
Waiting for the ship to get closer provided good opportunity to get some generic crowd shots…
Then as it was close enough it was a case of following it as it moved slowly into the mouth of the Tees…
The shot above is one that I had planned to take from the start as I think the graffiti lends itself to making a comment on the environmental risks that come with the ship including the estimated 700 tonnes of asbestos thought to be on board.
So after 2 weeks of research and planning the ship had arrived, all that remained now was to get the pictures out…details on this in Part 3.