The Royal Ballet Lower School in ITV show

March 20, 2012


The Royal Ballet Lower School in ITV show

David Suchet with a Leica M3

David Suchet with the Leica camera given to him by his Grandfather Jimmy Jarche on assignment at the Royal Ballet School Photographer: Chris Openshaw

In this programme, called Those I Have Shot, actor David Suchet follows in the footsteps of his Fleet Street press photographer grandfather, James Jarché. Suchet’s aim is to discover what it was like for Jarché to be sent on an assignment and “told not to come back unless you get the shot.” What was it like to be a press photographer in the 1940’s and 50’s ?  It wasn’t the same as the paparazzi now; Jarché was involved in “pure news,” but it did require determination and buckets of charisma.  Jarché had both, and so too does Suchet.  So what of his photography skills ?

Suchet explains early on that his maternal grandfather inspired him with his passion for photography and indeed gave him several cameras, the last of which was the Leica M3 which he uses in the programme, as well as plenty of instruction on the art of photography itself.

Once piece of advice Suchet remembers particularly vividly is that “when you look through your camera it’s not what you see but how you see it” that matters.  “Your lens” is more important than any amount of equipment, no matter how much it cost.

Suchet sets about photographing London, miners, HM The Queen, ordinary people doing their jobs (including a hoop dancer and a stilt walker) as well as visiting the Royal Ballet School in Richmond Park – the Lower School called White Lodge.

It’s a brief glimpse of his time there, and I have to say that his methods of photography would not be allowed under normal circumstances!  He gets right in the middle of the studio – I’ve never seen a photographer do anything more than tiptoe around the edges – making no attempt to be invisible and getting right in between the dancers as they jump past him. He must have had special dispensation!

The resulting image isn’t the best of his selection – but he does meet with The Sunday Times Magazine picture editor, John Jones, who agrees that one of his pictures might have made it into print, were they running a relevant story – which is quite some achievement. The Sunday Times Magazine is world-renowned for highlighting superb photography from around the world and Jones offers some advice relevant to all photo-journalists when it comes to submitting pictures that offer options for telling a story. Suchet rather humbly credits Jarché with his talent, saying that his grandfather was a professional whereas for Suchet, photography is a passion, but it’s still an emotional experience for him as he learns more about his grandfather’s huge body of work – and puts his own photographs under the microscope of industry experts.  He’s a very engaging host and his journey gives us – and him – more than he might have bargained for.

Perspectives – David Suchet: People I Have Shot is on ITV1, 25 March, 10.35pm.
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