©2019 by Steve Gemmell

  • Steve Gemmell

Politicians still say the same things

It was the mid 70's and politics was as at the forefront of the news then. as it is now. The difference was the amount of vitriol in public debate. The political problems were serious but ordinary people were less engaged. Without Social Media, the internet and 24 hour news life was less hectic.

People generally just put up with it and got on with life. As a young man, I certainly was less aware of all the political machinations behind the headlines. To me, none of it made a great deal of sense.


According to the common perceptions of that period, it was the worst decade since the war years. However for most ordinary families, we Britains were better off than ever before. But these were difficult years for Britain politically and economically. We were still enjoying post-war affluence and we were becoming complacent. The ’70s saw the pound fall below $2 for the first time. The unions were asking for a “fair share of the economic cake” and we were all told we needed to live within our means. I can remember strikes, three day weeks and petrol rationing!


I have seen boom years and recessions since then several times over. The politicians are still saying the same things, although in those days I suspect there were probably more “conviction” members of our parliament. Difficult to say the same today. Today seems to be the era of the “career” politician.


Back in January 1977 after a trip to the zoo with my camera, I put together this photographic “send-up“of the political scene and sayings at that time.


It was one of my photographic articles that were published during the 70s in Amateur Photography magazine. Occasionally I still read it today. However 42 years ago the circulation figures were far higher and the magazine much fatter. I am still surprised that it has survived in today's market place, many other photographic titles have come and gone since. Amazingly it is the world’s oldest weekly photographic magazine, first published in 1884!


Back then I developed the film, made the prints, glazed them, as mags needed high gloss prints for reproduction. I then typed the article on a typewriter before sending it all off including return postage and packing in case of rejection. Plus you did actually get paid for publication back then!

The main image of the open beaked Ostrich was tricky to print with quite a bit of dodging and burning needed for the required result. Consequently each print made was slightly different and trial and error was required to get what you wanted. If you then tried to print it again you would need to carefully try to replicate the exact amount of dodging and burning under the enlarger to achieve the same result. Since then I have made a digital negative of this image which once worked on in Photoshop will always produce the same result when printed or displayed on screen. How things have changed from the old film analogue days!

Published article from Amateur Photographer