A man who is registered blind has landed his dream role as an official photographer at Portsmouth Football Club.
Dave Taylor (above), who has 25% vision in each eye, was left devastated after he was forced to give up his job in the security industry in 2013.
‘I didn’t pick up a camera for three or four months,’ the 51-year-old told Amateur Photographer (AP).
However, photography – and help from the RNIB – lifted him out of the depression that followed his sight loss, and helped him overcome his loss of confidence.
A passionate photographer since schooldays, Dave said he has no formal training – instead, learning his craft from reading magazines such as AP and watching YouTube videos to help hone his technique.
As a huge fan of ‘Pompey’, and determined to photograph a home game, Dave wrote to Portsmouth FC despite previously having shot only portraits and landscapes.
‘I was really surprised they responded to my email because they [already] have their own photographer,’ said Dave.
‘I sent them a couple of landscape pictures.’
In March, Dave’s dream became a reality when he was shadowed during a match by a club photographer who loved his photos so much he asked Dave if he could cover reserve, ladies and academy teams’ games.
He now works as a volunteer photographer for www.pompeypress.co.uk, a website for Portsmouth fans, covering the occasional first-team game as well as other matches.
The Pompey Press website, where Dave Taylor’s photos appear
‘I can’t always see the ball, so I rely a lot on my hearing of the ball being kicked and the crowd’s cheers,’ explained Dave, who mainly uses a Canon EOS 6D with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and 2x converter.
None of his kit has been specially adapted to cope with his visual impairment.
‘I can hear the crowd. If Portsmouth are attacking towards the Fratton End I hear them getting excited.’
Using sound as a guide, Dave is able to zoom in on the action.
This technique doesn’t always work, though. Dave recalls an amusing moment when he was waiting for the ball to come down to earth, only to find – after a long wait – that it wasn’t a ball after all, but a passing gull.
Dave said he has a ‘hit rate’ of 10%, meaning that from around 1,000 photos he takes per match, around 100 are ‘okay’.
Dave said he has difficulty judging the quality of his pictures from the camera’s LCD screen, waiting until he has downloaded them to a computer where he can view them on a larger screen.
He sends 40-60 of his photos from each game to the Pompey Press website.
‘When I found myself at pitch-side taking photographs, at the club I have supported all my life, I felt like a kid in a toy shop – it was so exciting for me,’ he added.
‘It’s great that Portsmouth was willing to look beyond my sight loss and see that I can actually take some decent pictures.
‘I’m looking forward to the new season and maybe one day becoming a more regular photographer for the first team.’
Colin Farmery, who manages the club’s inclusion and diversity policy, said: ‘When Dave approached us, it sounded such as inspirational story [that] as a club we were delighted to give him his chance.
‘He has proved a valuable member of our Pompey Press volunteer team of photographers and his pictures are very good.’
Dave told AP he first got into photography when he was given the chance to take photos at school on Wednesday afternoons, as an ‘art’ option instead of doing sport.