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August 2011

The diary of a sometime working pro

Peter Dench is based in London and works primarily in the advertising, editorial and portraiture fields of photography. In 2010 Peter placed 2nd in Advertising at the SonyWorld Photography Awards. He has also had a number of solo shows of his work including screenings at Visa Pour L'Image, France. Peter has achieved aWorld Press Award in the People in the News Stories Category and participated in theWorld Press Joop Swart Masterclass. Football's Hidden Story, a FIFA sponsored project documenting 26 stories across 20 countries received 6 global accolades including aWorld in Focus, AOP Open and PDN Photo Annual Award.

1st-6th It’s just after 9am on a sunny summer’s day. The sound of pre-premiership football friendlies pollutes the air. I’m sitting by a swimming pool looking at a pair of shorts laid neatly on a sun lounger.A long black dress is smoothed out on the adjacent lounger. I imagine the couple that will fill them. I decide the woman will smell of coconut; the man of white musk. They will be on their first holiday as a couple; they will be in love. They will link little fingers while listening to the albums of Coldplay and David Gray through shared iPod headphones. I decide that I won’t say hello, but will smile warmly at them to acknowledge their blossoming future. Three hours later they haven’t arrived. Other sun seekers have had to sit on the floor by the pool. I hate the selfish couple and their vacated attire. I think of photographing myself in the man’s shorts and leaving a picture on the hotel noticeboard; of tossing the girl’s dress into the pool or placing funny-shaped fruit in the garment pockets. I am on a family holiday. I’m not cut out for a family holiday. I don’t play cards at home with the window open listening to BillWithers’Lovely Day being sung badly on the karaoke, but I do on a family holiday. I don’t normally drink odd-coloured alcohol from odd-shaped bottles, but I do that on a family holiday too. The trip has been paid for by my mother-in-law. There’s no irony in being working class and skint; mostly it just blows. I got into photography to travel the world at other people’s expense. On assignment I’ve partied with maharajas, dined off silver platters with billionaires, taken a helicopter ride up the river Thames with a Hollywood movie star and sipped gin with the Queen while gazing out across the Indian Ocean. On the family holiday I find myself shopping for Heinz products in the Spar supermarket while Bohemian Rhapsody plays out over the Tannoy. I eavesdrop on customers talking excitedly about the evening’s Roy Chubby Brown experience. On the way back to the hotel, Scouse Tony tries to cajole me into a restaurant, pointing at the beige and orange pictures of food I could tolerate on the lunchtime menu. The week is spent in a beer haze of playing thumb war, Hello Kitty Top Trumps and trying to purchase the photographs of happy families you find as you exit the water park. I keep sane by shooting some stock and file ‘the family holiday’ away with other events I can’t spontaneously enjoy: birthdays, weddings, NewYear’s Eve, the entire Christmas


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