Tuesday 31 March 2009

Picture this (or don’t)

I’m one of the worst photographers in the world, especially when it comes to beer and brewing. For instance, what can you do with a mash tun that hasn’t been done before, and how do you become a David Bailey to a brewer who is only too eager to get back to what they do best? A lot of the mags I write for (or have written for) ask for photos to accompany the articles — budgets are non existent for snappers, with the writer being next bottom on the food chain. On a press trip, the digital camera is always an essential tool as well as the notebook; on some trips it feels like we’re at a photocall as the brewer is asked to sniff hops, stand by the FV (or even pretend to look into it), lift a glass, sip from the glass or generally act the fool for a bunch of writers who are desperate for a glass of something sustaining. In the course of my work, I sometimes have a snapper in tow (especially if it’s a non-beer feature), but beer writing is very much can-I-take-another-shot and surreptitious glances at the way more superior snappers have framed their shots. Tomorrow I’m off up north on a press trip, in which several breweries and pubs will be visited and no doubt out of 100 photos I have taken, three will be serviceable. Henri Cartier-Bresson I am not — but here are a couple of pix I am proud of. The top is a bar scene in the Brewery Tap in Cains — one of the guys in the pic wasn’t too happy at being photographed, but was mollified when I said I wasn’t from any official body. Nothing much is happening in the pic, but that’s pub life sometimes. Secondly, this is the bottling line at Jenlain and came about quite by accident, I was being taken round by Raymond Duyck’s father, who spoke no English and I no French. He seemed very proud of his bottling line (as were several of the Northern French brewers I visited). I like the way one pack emerges out of the blur of rushing cases.

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