Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Seb Coe and the perfect shot


There is a brilliant spread in the Daily Mail today depicting Seb Coe re-enacting his historic Olympic win in the Moscow Olympics. It's by photographer Igor Monichev but the original next to it, taken 32 years ago, was an example of the job the great staff photographers of that era did. The by-line was Monty Fresco.

I was on the Daily Mail and the incomparable Monty Fresco was our cameraman trackside. His name was on the original picture - twice in half an hour. Monty was a legend, a man with boundless energy, unlimited courage and an artist renowned for going to any lengths to get a news picture. He once hired a red, double-decker and drove it to the Thai Embassy because he heard that the King and Queen of Thailand loved London buses. Sure enough, they came out, fascinated by it and wanted a ride. The security men couldn't throw Monty off it because he had hired it, it was his bus - and he drove them sightseeing around London all afternoon - and the Daily Mail got an exclusive.

Back at the Olympic trackside, 50 snappers got Seb Coe's astonished look as he broke the tape in the 1500 metres. Within minutes Monty and the other cameramen had their version of the win on the wires to their London newspaper offices. Each snap was slightly different, an arm up or down. Nobody had that crucifixion, arms wide shot. Calls were made, some snappers blaspheming down the line at London's demand for perfection, didn't we know 'our man' had won!

Not Monty. He hunted down every snapper on the finish line, asking to scrutinise their negatives until he found the perfect shot from an East european photographer. Within half an hour it was back over the wires and onto the Daily Mail front page - with Monty's by-line on it, of course! Monty was the absolute perfect professional.