"The camera never lies." The phrase suggests that whenever you take a photograph, what is in front of the lens is exactly what you get. Photoshop can lie big style, but that's a very different chat and not one we are going to have today. Maybe tomorrow. Who knows?
One of my most successful images was taken in December 2006, when Andrew Flintoff's England team went to Australia for the Ashes. After a barren 18 years, England had won the Ashes back the previous year with Michael Vaughan as their captain. Vaughan was injured before the tour to Australia, so there it was a choice between two Andrews as captain. Flintoff was picked ahead of the unlucky Andrew Strauss. Freddie probably got the nod because the powers-that-be at the time thought he might well sulk if he wasn't made captain.
The Test series began at the Gabba, with Steve Harmison bowling that absolutely terrible delivery that went straight to his best mate, Flintoff, who was fielding at second slip. Australia won that first Test.
The second Test, in Adelaide, started much, much better for England, and when they declared their first innings closed at 551 for 6 it all looked very good indeed for them. Australia fought back and at the start of the final day England were 97 runs ahead with nine second-innings wickets in hand. A draw appeared the only possible result.
However, England lost nine wickets for 60 runs, and just a few hours later Australia were closing in on their target of 168 runs to win the match. Flintoff was the bowler when Kevin Pietersen decided to throw the ball unnecessarily at the stumps. After the ball hit them it carried straight on to the boundary. This act turned three runs for Michael Clarke into seven. Not too many sevens in any form of cricket, are there?
The sequence of photos shows Flintoff's reaction to this blunder, and he was obviously mightily disappointed and frustrated at the time. Australia went on to win the match soon afterwards, and in fact finished up thumping England 5-0 in the series.
The Canon camera that I was using then shot roughly six frames a second, so the sequence of six that I've included below shows the pictures taken in about one second. (Anyone getting lost with all this arithmetic?) Freddie put his hand up and wiped his forehead and hair as he turned his head. I must admit that I was very fortunate that there was a large England flag in the background that added massively to the photo. That flag was a complete stroke of luck, although I could pretend I'd tied it there that morning if you'd prefer.
The surprising thing when I viewed the sequence of photographs later was that in one frame it appears that Flintoff is actually crying. I think we can safely assume that he wasn't, as it would have been the quickest bawl in history. Anyway, that one frame jumped out of the screen and I made sure I sent that photo back to all the newspapers and my other clients in the UK, hoping for some publications and that as a result of the uses I'd make some money.
It did do some very good business back in England - in fact, the Daily Mirror used that photograph three times in one edition. Unheard of! It was published in the Telegraph, the Guardian, Metro, and the Star as well.
It was pleasing to get the photograph reproduced and it made for an enjoyable birthday for me the following day, seeing the newspapers and knowing the picture had done well. I'm not sure how much Flintoff enjoyed his December 6th, though. Funnily enough it was his birthday as well, and before you ask, no, we're not the same age!
Specifications: Canon EOS - 1D Mark II, Canon 500mm lens, f5.0, 1/1328th sec, ISO 100