THE relationship between journalist and photographer can be a strained one, at the best of times.
To the reporter, photographers are ‘monkeys’, ‘chimps’ and ‘snappers’; to the photographer, reporters are ‘blunts’, ‘idiots’ and ‘caption writers’.
On the road, arguments over strategy abound, not least if it involves a lot of hanging about, waiting on a doorstep.
Yet even in the most testing of times, friendships are formed, and endure across the years and the titles.
I’ve been privileged to have worked with some of the very best in the game: Charlie Donnelly, Chris Watt, Alan Peebles and Toni Nicoletti, from my Daily Record days, among those I rate highest.
But it doesn’t mean we never fell out.
On our way back from the war in Kosovo, big Tony and I were on probably our 34th hour of travelling home when we started trading blows on a train bound for Rome, leaving the other passengers bemused.
Having endured almost a month in the field, and spent the previous days aboard Dutch military helicopters, trucks, cars, ferry and now the train, weighed down by rucksacks and flak jackets, it was fair to say we were a bit tetchy.
But no sooner had it started, than we fell about laughing, dreaming of the showers, pizza and cold lager we had been craving for weeks. And for a story, I’d go to hell and back with the big guy anytime. He’s that good.
Over in Ibiza, for a series of features with the irrepressible John Gunion, now of The Scottish Sun, I remember to this day a magical moment walking down the strip of San Antonio.
Our work done for the day we ambled towards the beach bars when a couple lively looking ladies serenaded him with the call: “Ho – Peter Stringfellow”, in deference to his then mullet.
He swore me to keep the secret, of course, but now his hair is a bit more trim, I hope he’ll forgive me this tiny indiscretion.
Mark Runnacles is another big favourite to work with on stake-outs, great company on the long haul and an ace photographer, to boot.
You know you can get on with someone if you spend three days living in a hire car and eating take-a-ways, as we did staking out an alleged drug-drop.
Suffice to say, I wouldn’t have fancied taking possession of that particular Ford Mondeo afterwards.
One of the most remarkable moments of photography I ever witnessed was with Chris Watt, in Edinburgh, as a man threatened to leap from a bridge onto Waverley rail station, below.
We were working out of the Record’s office in George Street at the time, yet that still didn’t stop him managing to blag his way into the then Scotsman offices overlooking the scene of the drama.
The man involved did, eventually, throw, first his dog off the ledg,e before jumping himself. The decision to publish Chris’s pictures sparked a huge debate over the ethics of doing so.
That said, I heard it also sparked a pretty big debate in The Scotsman offices, about how they’d been scooped – literally on their own doorstep.