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Magazine Of The Nikon World

Nikon Owner Issue 19

Tour De France - The Graham Watson Interview by Graham Swarbrick

Graham Swarbrick
Graham Swarbrick
Graham Swarbrick

Graham Watson has been photographing the Tour de France for nearly thirty years and has built his reputation on a broad range of styles that stretches far beyond the run-of-the-mill action shot. From stunning landscapes to powerful portraits, he has documented this most colourful of sports - and its global superstar, Texan Lance Armstrong. Guy Swarbrick has interviewed him for this current issue.

Going right back to the beginning, how did you first get involved in photography generally?

I left school in 1972 without any qualifications. Someone came to my school and said "What would you like to do?". He showed me a list of careers including carpentry and working in a bank, but I picked photography. He sent me off to an interview at a portrait company called Lenare in the centre of London, who were aristocratic, society photographers. I started working with very wealthy people and we would go to their houses and walk around with a great big 10X8 inch Kodak specialist camera. The problem was I only got paid £8 a week and I lived in Croydon. By the time your national insurance and your train fare was taken off, you had nothing left.

I bought a bike, rode into town every day for the best part of five years. During that time I got involved with cycling through a local cycling club. I went to see the Tour de France in 1977 and somehow the two worlds merged for me, because it is such a beautiful sport and Paris is a beautiful city. I thought this was an incredible opportunity.

You won a magazine competition; was that the first shot you had published?