Estimated reading time:5 minutes, 36 seconds
Everyone on Islington Faces Blog has a story. Dieter Perry, 46, knows exactly what makes a good news photo – but then with 15 years’ experience snapping for the Argent group’s North London newspapers including Islington Gazette (now the Islington & Hackney Gazette) and Hampstead & Highgate Express that should be no surprise. Interview by Nicola Baird
Dieter’s job as a busy photographer for North London newspapers isn’t the only reason he recognises and is recognised by so many people.
“Islington feels like home,” says Dieter, camera equipment in one hand, white coffee in the other, at Assiette Anglaise, a café off Liverpool Road, while he waits for the action to start at nearby Paradise Park Fun Day. His fold-up bike is parked nearby, ready to head to the next job. “I keep my equipment light so I can cycle everywhere around north London – all around Islington and up to Hampstead, St John’s Wood, Maida Vale and Paddington,” he says. “But I’m not really fit! I just walk up the big hills like Hornsey Rise, Muswell Hill, Crouch Hill and Highgate West. I prefer to conserve my energy and the hills only take eight minutes to walk.”
Armed with a camera Dieter’s great at getting the best shots, and for local papers this can often mean being willing to work with children and animals, at the same time. “A couple of years ago I did some photos of a young child with newborn lambs at Freightliners Farm – that was a great shot,” he says before showing me some of his recent photos on his ipad.
The photos seem to be a record of the area’s celebrities, mixed with people enjoying all that north London has to offer. “I’ve just been to the Kenwood Classical Concerts,” says Dieter as he scrolls. “Classical is not my type of music, but the performances were very good so I enjoyed it. And it’s outside and live.” At this point he stops and shows me Michael Ball, the famous musical singer, performing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Having a press pass may get you to the front of the audience, but typically there are restrictions even on what official photographers can do. “At Kenwood I could mostly take photos for the first three songs. But a few Saturdays ago it was atrocious weather – like a monsoon. I was holding up an umbrella trying to take pictures…” explains Dieter laughing at the memory. The pictures worked though and were duly published.
Although an all-Islington lad, Dieter* was given a German first name by his German-born mum, Dorothy, now 77. “She’s lived in England for so long – she was a school cook all over Islington,” he says. Perhaps that’s why he adds: “I find it fascinating watching the cooks on TV, but I’m a terrible cook… I can only do pasta, beans on toast and fish fingers!”
Dieter lives in Holloway, near where he grew up. He started at Poole Park School, N4 opposite the Six Acres estate and next to Andover estate, then went to the all boys Sir Philip Magnus (the King’s Cross site is now used by Kingsway College) which famously campaigned hard to avoid being amalgamated with Highbury Grove School in the 1980s.
Dieter admits to being, “terrible at school. I had a tough time at home so found it difficult to concentrate. I studied engineering in Hackney, but got into photography from my father, Arthur who was a very keen photographer.”
Tragically earlier this year (2013) Arthur, then 83, was run over while using his electric wheelchair in a hit and run incident on Hanley Road and went on to die from his injuries. A memorial is to be held soon.
Tips for photographers
Dieter’s done work for the Press Association (PA), National News Agency, which is based in Hoxton, and the Independent on Sunday. “I started with work experience at a youth magazine called Exposure which is still based at Muswell Hill Centre, at the back of M&S on Broadway. For anyone who wants to get into journalism it’s good if you can take photographs and write, you have better career choices then.”
And he has no plans to move from the area. “It’s the people that make Islington what it is. There are lots of people from other countries who come here and bring their way of living. For example there’s a Turkish supermarket round the corner from me which bakes flat breads on its premises, I really like that.”
Thanks to the geographical range of his work Dieter’s familiar with some fantastic parts of north London. Most of the times I spot Dieter he’s on a work mission, but occasionally he hangs out locally, just for fun. “My favourite place in the area is Crouch End. I also enjoy Upper Street, especially the Angel and around Camden Passage.”
You can see Dieter’s photos in the Islington Gazette. http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/home
- Dieter is an old German name which means warrior of the people. It’s pronounced D-ter.
- Links to Exposure, http://exposure.org.uk/magazine/ Also have a look at the blog, or this quick film link about the point of Exposure, http://exposure.org.uk/young-people/#introduction
Over to you
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This blog is inspired by Spitalfields Life written by the Gentle Author.
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