Repatriation by Adam Gasson /

Portfolio Series #1

For most photographers your portfolio is your CV, covering letter, foot in the door and a whole host of other things. In a short set of pictures you have the ability to show a client your experience and ability without having to say a word – which, for many photographers, is nothing short of a blessing.
So with that in mind I thought I’d start a series where I’d go through some of my portfolio shots and give an explanation as to how the picture was made. And yes, the answer will probably be “I stood there are pressed that there button”. Or words to that affect at least. So first up is the opener of my photojournalism folio, a shot from a repatriation passing through Wootton Bassett.

I spent nearly four years working for the press agency SWNS, based out of the Bristol office. Most of that time overlapped the same period where repatriations were taking place in Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire. A prelonged period of heavy fighting in Afghanistan in the summer of 2009 led to many British casualties, unfortunately some fatal. In one 24 hour period eight soldiers lost their lives and were due to be repatriated at the same time. This was, and still is, the largest of all the repatriations that took place and passed through the town.
It was decided between the picture editor and myself that one angle we needed to cover was to show how the town, family and friends had all come together to pay their respects to the eight. The story was about everybody, not individuals. I travelled down to Wootton Bassett the day before and found a spot on a small ledge out of the window of an upstairs flat. The spot gave me a clear view of the entire street and also, I felt, was less obtrusive. On the day itself I was able to shoot without invading anyone’s private moment but still capture an image that showed the collective grief.
Technically it was a straightforward image, with enough depth of field to show the entire scene. I was, at the time, filing my pictures from a PDA using Phojo which allowed me to send my pictures very quickly to the desk. The image was used across a number of front pages and as a double page spread in national papers and magazines.

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