The 12th and 11th Hours
Yesterday, I took this photograph of Sir Ben Ainslie, the skipper of Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing, the UK’s team in the 35th America’s Cup, the initial World Series stint of which is currently happening in my hometown of Portsmouth. The photo isn’t a particularly spectacular capture — I didn’t even edit out the scab on his lip — but there’s something special to me about the picture. I’m not one to ever feel too much pride for my work; I’m too focused on picking out all the little flaws in everything I do so that I can avoid those mistakes in what I do next. But I’m proud of this photo.
I’m proud of it, and it feels special to me, because it’s something of a culmination, a resolution, a climax, a reward. The local media company I work for, Team Locals Portsmouth, is tiny. It’s the David, not the Goliath. There’s one other person who forms the company, and that’s the founder, the director, the boss, Charley. Everything we produce, from the thousands of words we write each day across our website, Facebook, and Twitter to the hundreds of photographs we publish and myriad videos we create and graphic design projects we take on, is all forged by just the two of us.
It’s a culmination to me because, after about three years of working to build up the company, our little local media startup has become part of something truly and literally global for the first time. We haven’t just seen the usual summer spike in hits and engagement: statistics have doubled, quadrupled, increased eightfold. People are accessing our content from more countries than ever, and though the heightened international attention is, by nature for a publication focused on local news, fleeting, the analytics line graph mountain feels like just that: a mountain climbed.
Sales numbers aside, though, the raw emotional human feeling of this photo being a culmination of our efforts comes from the very opportunity we were given to be amidst names like BBC and BT Sport in a media centre packed to the rafters with Goliath cameras which made my David DSLR seem like a gazelle escaping a lion. We’d met and interviewed celebrities before, but not of this stature or current relevance. And we’d been in press pits previously, though none quite so heaving with vultures trying to claw up the money shots and clever interview questions.
Being in the media centre was quite a stressful experience, with cameramen and interviewers constantly trying to barge closer without a care in the world for other photographers’ shots, but that makes seeing photos from the experience afterwards that much more rewarding. I guess, if I were to view this with the eyes of the traditional mainstream world, we would have had a glimpse of ‘making it’ in our reporting of such a big international sporting event. Moving from the 11th hour of ‘doing’ to the 12th hour of ‘done’. And in a way, our entire city of Portsmouth is experiencing that 12th hour in bringing the event to our shores.
But of course, the real ‘making it’ will always remain at the 11th hour, where satisfaction is derived from avoiding satisfaction, the appeal of reaching a destination pales in comparison to the enthralling prospect of always moving forward, and lethargy and rest are the devils on your shoulder.