It is 8am on a Sunday morning back in 2008. I find myself on a deserted Regent Street in central London, the weekend before Christmas. I'm feeling the icy cold chill of a December morning and wishing I was back in my cosy bed warming my hands with a cup of hot tea. But I am here and my morning has just got a whole lot worse as the photocall I was due to attend is actually on another day and there has been a mix up at the office.
As I am considering what kind of breakfast I want (priorities), I find myself walking past Hamleys. Under the twinkling white Christmas lights, a grand window display showing Father Christmas soaring through the air with his reindeer is visible through the glass. It’s impressive and I take a couple of shots, wondering if this could work as a standalone picture for The Press Association, the news agency I am working for at the time. It’s a nice shot, but nice won’t cut it. It needs something else. I then notice a young girl approach and peer in, her face pressed up against the glass. She is wearing a bright red coat with pristine white tights and patent red shoes. I take two shots; they might just work for the image I am after. I approach her parents and ask for the permission to use the image in exchange for sending them copies via email.
After filing the two pictures and making a quick call to the office, I head off for my longed-for breakfast. The next day, I open the pages of The Daily Telegraph - there it is and it looks great! I then see The Financial Times and it’s on the front page. The FRONT PAGE. I am ecstatic. It’s even discussed on BBC Breakfast when the presenter is talking through the day’s front pages.
As promised, I sent the images to the little girl’s mother. An email appeared in my inbox a few days later and she told me just how thrilled she was to see her daughter on the front page of a national newspaper. Out of the blue, a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived at the office shortly after, thanking me for the picture. I was touched to know the picture was liked not only by me. It was a chance shot but it remains one of my favourite pictures to this day.