Since joining the Daily Mail in 1965, Roger Bamber has worked for The Sun, The Observer and The Guardian, and twice won the British Press Photographer of the Year. His photos are renowned for their visual impact and distinctive, wry humour. Visit www.roge
Roger reveals how a chance encounter prompted him to reflect on one of the most formative photos of his career.
London’s Fleet Street in the 1960s was the place to go for young photographers aspiring to join Britain’s national newspapers. In 1965, 20-yearold graphic designer Roger Bamber transported his portfolio there to show to legendary Daily Express photographer Terry Fincher who told him: “The Mail is paper of the year and they’re looking for people, so go there.” He got hired, and so began a career stretching for more than 50 years, photographing everything from war zones to rock and roll.
His first assignments were more sedate, including a trip to Brighton in the summer of 1967, where he recalls: “I was asked to photograph the sports day at St Dunstan’s home for the war blind.” Roger took up position just beyond the finish line of the running track. In front of him, back to camera, a man pointed a bleeping megaphone towards the runners. “It just bleeped a noise and they ran towards it, and this man was the only one who came anywhere close to it! He was so athletic running towards a bleeping megaphone, and beautiful in his stance.”
The sprinter was former captain Jack Fuller of the 22nd SAS Regiment, blinded in 1952 in Malaya aged 24. The photo was published over half a page in the
Express. It wasn’t Roger’s first published picture, but it was significant. “I’d photographed Cecil Beaton with his pictures, that sort of thing, but I regard this picture as one that made my career,” he says. “I’ve got a reputation for this style and this formative picture helped me make a name for myself.” “Oh my God, that’s my husband!” In 2015, this picture was part of a retrospective exhibition during the Brighton Festival that celebrated Roger’s 50 years as a photojournalist. One afternoon, an elderly woman there exclaimed: “Oh my God, that’s my husband!” Roger explains: “Her name was Pat, she lived in Argyllshire, but she was in Brighton to visit a friend who lived nearby. The friend was out shopping and happened to pop into the gallery… She recognised the runner in the picture.” She brought Pat to see the photo, and, witnessing her reaction to the image, Roger “just took the picture down off the wall and gave it to her.”
The couple met and married several years after Roger took the picture, and Jack died in 2007. “He became a physiotherapist, so without sight his hands did the work. To meet his wife was something else. It lifted my heart enormously. I loved the fact that this woman turned up. It brought back memories of how I started, and it has become a classic shot of mine. I’m proud of it, I’m proud of what I’ve done.”