No, not of the sexual kind (although sometimes, I do wonder). The passion of which I write is the love of horses.
In my line of work as a press photographer, I face a wide variety of subjects, stories and people on a daily basis. This is one of the main reasons why I love the job so much but, as you would expect, sometimes you shoot happy stories and sometimes you cover the darker sides of life.
Now some time ago, I went to Brighton to cover the annual Labour Party Conference. Normally a mixture of dry speeches and photo-calls mixed with the occasional bit of interest, the 2004 conference proved no different with lots of Blair-based handshakes and the odd “down with this sort of thing” placard-waving protester.
However, that changed when the pro-fox hunt groups galloped into town and decided to do this..
Now as it happened, I was shooting for The Times newspaper that day and was the only press photographer who got the shot which is a shame as The Times used it once, buried in a supplement and it’s never been printed since but that’s a separate story.
The pro-hunt group pulled up in a busy shopping street, opened the rear doors of their van, tied a rope to a lamp post then edged the van away, dragging the corpse onto the road. A man got out of the van and wedged the placard through the horses ribcage and drove off. The ensuing upset saw pro-hunt supporters (to rear of frame) smiling and clapping with local residents looking on shocked and disturbed with a group of girls near me, crying uncontrollably.
Fast forward a few years and I STILL get a very regular stream of angry people contacting me to tell me that I am, in fact, Satan’s more evil brother. This happens on such a regular basis that I have a standard response in a folder that I copy and paste into my replies;
I’m consistently astounded and disappointed by people thinking that they
have the right to order me to remove pictures from my site.
“Journalist”: a person who practices journalism, the gathering and
dissemination of information about current events, trends, issues and
Why is it only the animal lovers that seem to fail to grasp this idea? I’ve
also photographed fashion shows but never get emails from clothes lovers
asking how I designed the dresses. I’ve shot football matches but don’t get
emails from fans asking me how I scored the goal. For some reason, I get a
reasonably regular flow of misdirected diatribe from horse lovers thinking
that for some reason I personally decided to kill a horse. If you got this
email address, surely you read the rest of my site and looked at the other
images to see that I am a news photographer so take pictures of the news,
whatever it may be?
The news is all about raising awareness of issues that can range from
light-hearted nonsense to the darker aspects of life and death. To think
that things that upset you should be removed from public view is very
narrow-minded and would result in actions and events that you disagree with
happening without your knowledge, therefore denying you a chance to voice
your opinion and fight for your rights. Would you be happier if your daily
newspaper only featured photographs of happiness and rainbows or do you
actually find current affairs and events stimulating to conversations and
If someone takes a photo of a dead animal, is that automatically condoning it’s death or
is it allowing human beings to display the intelligence that they are born
with and make their own decision? Your blinkered vision of right and wrong
and how to go about highlighting your cause is decidedly naïve.
So, in response to your demand for me to remove the image, the answer is no.
This will undoubtedly lead to a continued flow of venomous
emails from people such as yourself but I believe that life and opinion should always
I hope that next time you feel like sending an aggressive email such as the
ones that I received from you, you carefully check your details and facts
first to make sure you’re abusing the right person.
I’m still trying to decide if I should publish these rambling threats and abuse on this blog. A consistent theme of too many exclamation marks, a personal insult followed by a demand for the pictures destruction/removal provide quite a nice theme to them. Almost poetic. If anyone reads this and wants to see some of it, let me know and I’ll post a few here. If anyone reads this and wants to tell me how cruel I am and ask me why I killed a horse, you know where to find me.