Fifty years behind a camera

Photographic Awards
1971 British National Press Sports Section

1972 World Press Photo Competition Features Award

1974 British Sport Photographer of the Year

!986 Highly commended (portfolio) British Sports Photographer of the year
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David was born in the East End of London in 1937. The East End having always been (and still is) the mixing bowl of London, his family was a typical mixture of the areas then immigrant population the "Cohens and the Kellys"

 With his siblings he was evacuated during the second world war to a small Devon village, Kingskerswell, where he enjoyed a country upbringing, winning a scholarship to Newton Abbot Grammar school.

 "Being a city boy brought up in the country and having both Polish Jewish and Irish Catholic antecedents, has without doubt been a major influence in shaping my approach to life. Nothing is black and white but many shades of grey. For most of my life I have been on the outside looking in which may explain my interest in documentary photography. A photographer tends to be a voyeur not a participant"  DW

On return to London in the 50s David got tired of waiting to be conscripted and volunteered for three years in The Parachute Regiment (the famous Red Devils) lying about his age. He was seventeen but said he was seventeen and a half. He passed the demanding selection course and made his first of many parachute descents at seventeen and four months.

He saw service in Cyprus with 3 Para during the EOKA terrorist campaign and in 1956 took part in the Suez operation, parachuting into El Gamel airport as part of the British and French invasion of Egypt. It was the last time British paratroops were dropped into action in battalion strength. He was eighteen.

During the Suez conflict he met up with Joe Waldrof who was covering the war for the Illustrated Magazine. Seeing that David had a camera Joe asked if he had taken pictures of the previous days parachute landings. The result was three films sent back to the London office of The Illustrated and four pages published and syndicated world wide!

“This chance meeting with Waldroft and the publications in The Illustrated changed the direction of my life. In my new profession I have to say that I started at the top and have been working my way steadily downward ever since”. DW

On demob David worked for a photographic agency in Essex, servicing the local papers and covering West Essex for the National Press. Len Franklin the picture editor of The Daily Sketch (who lived in the area) saw his work and offered him work in their Fleet Street offices.

In 1964, David took up skydiving with a relish and was soon taking his helmet mounted camera into the action. 
By the time he had packed his parachute for the last time (in the mid eighties) he had made over 2500 skydives, and represented Great Britain four times in World Championships. Twice as team leader.

“Sport Parachuting was my second love. It seemed so natural to take the camera with me. At the time there was only two or three skydivers jumping with cameras. Now it seems there are more cameras in the sky than jumpers!”  DW

By the early sixties he was working as a freelance almost exclusively for The Daily Sketch during the week and The Sunday Mirror on a Saturday.

By the mid sixties David was being published in most of the Nationals and the then embryonic colour supplements published by the Telegraph and the Sunday Times as well as the Illustrated London News and other magazines. His work was syndicated world wide by Camera Press. In the late sixties he spent six months in Israel on a retainer for the Observer covering the war of attrition.
"The sixties were good days in Fleet Street which was like a village. You rubbed shoulders with all "the greats" in the local pubs , Terry Fincher, Terry O'Neill, Cris Smith, Eamon McCabe even Tony Armstrong Jones. I felt privileged to be able to work there. Then came Mr. Murdoch and things were never the same. There are now fewer staff photographers” DW
The eighties saw a change of direction. David ran a corporate video production company, Images Sight and Sound, based in Cheltenham selling it in 1992 and moving to Spain.
"We had some very prestigious clients Eagle Star, Group Four, Kraft General Foods, Allied Dunbar, Plessey and the Dowty Group. But after eight years I had a touch of deja vu and longed for my roots in still photography. Just me and my camera!" DW

In Spain, David started a holiday company catering exclusively for photographers guiding them around Andalusia and later Morocco.
“Photography is about location and light "when and where". I know the best locations and what time of the day to get the best pictures. Saving my clients days of looking and with four wheel drive Land Rovers I can get to off road places holiday hire cars would never reach. Some of my clients came back four times”.! DW

David is now based in the Sierra de Alhama, in Malaga Province, Andalusia having rebuilt a 100 year old mill and is currently working on a retrospective work  book and People/Landscape book on Morocco. Having gone completely digital (Nikon D2xs) he now also has a Herculean task of digitizing 45 years of film onto a data base

“I just love Morocco and have been photographing there for six years. It's a land of amazing contrasts much greener than you expect. The people are so colourful.
I never tire of shooting there. Spain was probably like that in the fifties. DW

Digital has opened a whole new interest in photography for me. I love the control and now with Epson printers and CD writers I can produce every thing "in house”.

It has to be said that I still get the same kick out of (as the great man said) capturing that "decisive moment" now ,as I did in 1956
Looking back on the fifty plus years I have been involved in photography the conclusion I come to if asked "What did you enjoy most?" is with out doubt  the freedom that being a freelance gave me.

As I have already mentioned , I considered it a privilege to have worked in “Fleet Street” during the sixties and seventies. As a photographer you get to look into many other peoples lives so you know what the alternatives are. It is great to be able to look at yourself in the mirror each morning and say "You are a lucky bastard "
I sincerely hope you enjoy browsing these web pages!

                             Best wishes 
                           David Waterman