Peter Warren Clark
Peter Warren Clark
Whether the weather is cold or whether the weather is hot we always have our weather whether we like it or not… Well the hot option happens rather rarely for Peter – the official photographer of Ilkley Rugby Club, but whether he likes it or not he is always there – one camera in hand, another hanging on his arm – ready to exchange at any time – and with speed! – as rugby photography requires a good reflex.
– Yes, it does – admits Peter. - you really have to concentrate on the game and be prepared, if you don’t want to miss the action. Not easy sometimes when the ground is slippery and muddy, your fingers are half frozen, the rain is getting under your collar, and the wind blows directly in your face... and your thoughts start to drift bizarrely towards the warm bar and a nice pint .
Saying so he smiles with indulgence – it is also a part of it – big coat, big boots and last year’s innovation – a hat! – and now he is ready to move around the ground all the time during the match wherever the action leads him. To be as close as possible. Trying different angles.
It wasn’t until about twenty years ago when Peter started to think about photography or - more precisely - about being a photographer himself as about something worth fighting for.
Of course the world of the cameras and pictures was always a part of his – as his father was a well established photographer in nearby Keighley. Peters photographic career started on the other side of the camera – he shows me several big boxes– full of pictures of him and his younger brother. They were stored in his home in Ilkley downstairs, while the old cameras - souvenirs of his childhood are exposed on the shelves in the lounge. The collection include his first camera – received at fourteen. But though familiar with the equipment it was a long way to become a rugby photographer.
– My family wasn’t a very sporting family and indeed I have never played rugby and scarcely watched it and so knew nothing about it till about twelve years ago, when my daughter called me one Saturday saying she’s going to watch the match with my grandson and she invited me to come and take the camera as well in hope that maybe I’d enjoy it… and I did!! It was the first time I really got the chance to see a rugby match – if we don’t count the one I watched a long time ago with my friends – which was a ladies rugby team and in all honesty – Peters eyes twinkle as he starts laughing - at that time I was probably more interested in the players’ legs which isn’t any more the case with the Ilkley team…I hasten to add.
Seriously it was this first match Ilkley vs Sheffield that gave him the opportunity to take photos of action. This was mostly striking and challenging and still is. While asked what he wants to show in his pictures – what he tries to catch Peter answers immediately – the character of the game. And indeed while looking at some of his pictures we can see it – the rapid movements, the determination in the players gestures and expressions of their faces. Sometimes, passion, anger, pain and hope and joy and disappointment and the strong will to win in a team spirit!
- When takinh photographs I do it for my own pleasure but I also try to promote the sport through my website and by publishing some of the pictures in various news publications. I like the game and I do believe it’s worth promoting among the youngsters – says Peter
Appreciating the sport very much and with most Saturday's of the rugby season on the sports ground Peter should be the rugby expert and the game without doubt have no secrets for him yet…
- I support Ilkley of course, I met plenty of fantastic people being the official photographer, it’s just that as I’m always in a hurry “to catch the moment” I haven’t still got the time to learn all the rules (sorry Ken, I meant 'Laws')… - P.C. admits laughing.
Managing a physical sport like rugby and the delicacy of portraiture.
There is still one same thing - the spirit (though slightly different – he laughs), the emotions – which can be so beautifully seen in his portraits.