tiff needell

The best thing I know.

My line of work has one specific side to it, which I enjoy more than any other.

It's not about the journeys I go on, the places I get to see, or how many likes I can get on a photo. My favourite thing about being a photographer, is all the encounters I get to have with all kinds of people. 

A few weekends ago, I went to Winchester to photograph an awards night for engineers. That night was a perfect example to why I love what I do. 

It's not that I want a complete understanding of the people around me; I just can't get enough of the minor insights you get in other people's lives. How they act, what they're thinking of, what experiences they have... Small fragments that slowly but surely build my view of the world.

Engineers are an interesting species. My general notion is that they are ridiculously clever, have an attractive and rational way of thinking, and that they are sometimes a bit socially awkward. I noticed the latter part this night. People who didn't know each other were put at the same tables, which led to an unusually quiet ambience at these types of events. 

So, how do you get engineers going, if not by putting lots of Lego on each table and let them compete—who can build the most interesting object? As soon as you put people in their right element, they bloom instantly. It's lovely to witness. 

During the event I talked a lot with the coordinator, a gentle and incredibly social man who constantly made sure I was fed and with a drink in my hand. Instant plus points. 

We started talking about cameras and lenses and he continued the conversation by showing me a photo that his friend had taken of a surfer, with a lens that cost him £7500. 

Three years ago, his friend found out that he had terminal cancer and was given twelve months to live. Since he got an "end date", he was able to take out his whole life insurance of £500k. Three years later he's still relatively healthy, works sometimes and spends all of his spare time on fulfilling his dreams. Things that other people often postpone. 

Later in the evening I got to meet Tiff Needell, who car lovers probably recognise from Top Gear or Fifth Gear. Since he has worked closely with Jeremy Clarkson during a long period of time, he had lots of stories to share. 

One time, Tiff and Jeremy were given a super expensive car to take for a test drive. Suddenly, there's an explosion on one side of the car and a fire starts. Soon after the first explosion, the car catches fire on the other side of the car as well. Stunned and horrified, Tiff yells to Jeremy: "We must do something!"

Jeremy looks calmly at the car, puts a cigarette in his mouth... Leans towards the car to light the cigarette and says with an indifferent voice: "Let that bugger burn."

When the event was finished and all awards handed out, I was going to get a ride with one of the event organisers to catch the last train to London. Apparently the MC—Joe Crowley, also a BBC presenter—was also catching the last train and asked if he could come with. 

Suddenly we're on this almost empty train towards London, in the middle of the night, and spend two hours just chatting away and getting to know each other. He tells me about his journalist assignments in Luleå and shows me a photo where he's posing with a several meters high beaver made of ice. Very Swedish of him. We talk about family, relationships, the pros and cons of being a freelancer, and apparently one of his best friends is also a Swedish wedding photographer in London. Once we get to Waterloo, we catch one Uber each and never speak again. 

This! Random meetings. People to get to know and be inspired by. Constant new perspectives and anecdotes. 

I will never get tired of that.