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Saturday, October 23, 2004

When Harry met Uncle.

How we view recent events in which the third in line to the UK throne, Prince Henry Charles Albert David, aka "Prince Harry " allegedly, briefly, lost his expensively tutored composure and tilted at a hapless press photographer, Chris Uncle , is entirely subjective and dependent on an individual?s attitude to the monarchy and the media. Some sided with the jobbing shooter , anoraked against the early morning London cold, and others with the dullard privileged "lad " Prince . As a freelance photographer (and not a particular fan of the monarchy) the trivial event raises serious concerns.

Chris Uncle , apparently working for the Evening Standard , I?d guess, had been sent , by his editor, to stake out that " exclusive" London Night Club. Any images he came home with would have been the paper?s property and not his. In the fame game, those who are interested know the spots the "celebs" are likely to frequent and if those who need photographers to confirm their celebrity chose to go to such places they should know what to expect and indirectly are courting media attention with intent and have no cause to complain .

Harry could have had any amount of yobish fun anywhere else in any of London?s night clubs but elected to go to the place where it is currently cool to be seen. Thus press shooters would inevitably have been at the door waiting for him and he must have know that. And yet it is alleged , he asked, as he lunged forward in an attempt to smack Chris Uncle " What are you doing here ?" and that defies belief. It really was a stupid , rhetorical question.

Chris Uncle would not have been able to profit from any shot he took. Legally , any photographs he took on duty would technically belong to his employers. He would have had no claim to copyright and therefore could not profit from them. His newspaper, on the other hand, could have syndicated any of his images and potentially made huge profit at Uncle?s expense.

In the more mundane freelance photography world I frequent , I might expect around £25- £30 for any ordinary picture published in a local or regional newspaper and upwards of £150 for any image published in a national paper. Had I been there , as a freelance, any pictures I took would have been my property and I could then , theoretically, have sold them to the highest bidder. In the unlikely event that someone like me suddenly coming across an "A list" celebrity or any Royal in camera range, and especially in some compromising position, I would suddenly be looking at hitting the jackpot and making a great deal of money from a single exclusive shot.

Napoleon famously observed that the British are a nation of shopkeepers , when in fact, we are now, it seems , a nation print media voyeurs . The British are one of the world?s most avid consumers of newspapers and magazines with an apparently insatiable appetite for images and text, however inconsequential, which focus, obsessively, on the private lives of the rich and famous. Celebrities need media photographers to help keep them in the public eye and the better ones know and accept that as everyday reality . Currently in the league of media photography, Beckham and Posh are the number one earners for photographers and any royal features about tenth in the hit list (just behind the ingenious wannabees , Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas)

Harry, it is alleged, lost the plot because of his natural hatred for the "paparazzi", whom he might justly feel were culpable in the death of his mother, who, incidentally , was a master at using the media to her advantage. We should remember that, whilst we know that the media chase was a factor in Dianna?s death, in the end , no photographer was finally held to blame for her death and a drunken chauffeur was the real culprit so Harry?s hatred is misdirected, it seems to me.

Perhaps Harry?s random attack was directed, symbolically at Mr "Paparazzo" in Federico Fellini's sixties film classic , " La Dolce Vita." After the movie was released, the word
" paparazzi" became synonymous with intrusive photographers who pursue celebrities . (In Italian , the word 'paparazzi' literally means 'buzzing insects'.)

As a freelance, with no particular interest in dullards like Harry, I take exception to the words "intrusion of privacy", when directed at press jobbers like Uncle. In this event. Uncle was in a public place and therefore entitled to shoot what he saw and he is not a celebrated , aggressive chaser of celebrities . Uncle was not covertly over some wall with some hugely expensive long lens , and it hard to accept that what happened this night was in any sense an intrusion of Harry?s privacy.

We will never know what actually happened and in the run of things , some poor woman who devoted her life to the ordinary folks in Iraq is under threat of summary execution as a result of a genuine commitment to a real cause over many years . Against that, Harry?s carefully orchestrated Buck house PR, posing with disadvantaged kids in far of Africa is obscene. Our Royals are on increasingly shaky grounds , immensely privileged by mere accident of birth and have no need for genuine work and end up in silly jobs to make them seem worthwhile when they have little to contribute to the real world. I? m just not wild about Harry ; he appears to be a lose cannon and worse he is taking on a career in the army. You have to presume he will automatically be seen as officer material and that is deeply worrying.

johncoxon 10:13 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

john/Male/51-55. Lives in United Kingdom/Engalnd/Salford, speaks English and French. Eye color is brown. I am what my mother calls unique. I am also creative. My interests are photgraphy/local history.
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