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Peter Andre and Katie Price Photos at London Marathon

James Vellacott is a staff photographer with the Daily Mirror. Here's how he covered the London Marathon.

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The Thursday before the London Marathon James Vellacott was in the Daily Mirror's office when their Picture Editor, Ian Down was planning the paper's coverage of the London Marathon. Many people already knew that Jordan and Peter Andre would be running the race so Ian announced across to the office that James would be Jordan's personal photographer for the day. He basically told James to stick with her as much as he could but as James hadn't trained for the race, he wasn't going to run it so some creative thinking was in order.
 
Jordan running the London Marathon.
Marathon day arrived, the sun was shining on London and James made his way to the race.
 
The race starts early and the Daily Mirror have a photographer at the start, one half way and one at the end and they may also have a couple of freelancers just to help out. There's a VIP area for the celebrities and the photographers are allowed in there. There's also a photo call with the celebrities on the actual starting line which we also take full advantage of. As for the main runners unless there's an unusual story or the sports pages want it we don't cover them, it's the celebrities we are interested in. One of our 3am girls was running too and she was going to run with Jordan but she decided to shoot off and finish it quicker.”
 
As James was asked to be Jordan's "personal photographer" he wasn't at the start but saw on the BBC that Jordan was having trouble with her knee so he decided to pick her up half way at Tower Bridge as there was a chance she would be walking by then. Eventually, after three hours of people in fancy dress and professional runners going by, Jordan came past and James started to walk with her.
 
I walked with her for about two hours and I got some very average shots of her and Peter together, similar to those others got at the start. But she was clearly having problems with her knee and she was limping a bit so I decided to keep an eye on her and watch her for a bit longer.
 
After about a mile Jordan had to sit down and have her knee looked at by a physio which immediately makes for a more interesting picture than the two of them walking side by side.
 
There was myself and a freelance guy, no one else, no TV as we were so far back – you were talking five hours into the race and they were starting to clear the barriers up by then so there weren't really any member of the media around – which was good for me.”
 
 Jordan and Peter Andre in the London Marathon.
Eventually the freelance photographer left to send his pictures off but James decided to wait a bit longer and the race led him into Blackfriars underpass where, again, Jordan literally keeled over in pain and she had to sit on the floor.
 
In the underpass it was much darker so I switched to ISO1600 which on a Canon EOS 5D II is workable and I got some brilliant images of her. I used a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and there was one good, clear, wide-angled shot of her sat on the floor with all the lighting orange and Peter leaning over, framing the shot. I looked at the camera and thought unless something serious like her getting in an ambulance occurs then this is the shot.”
 
By this point it was four in the afternoon and the newspaper is put to bed early on a Sunday so if James had waited and sent images off later there was a chance he wouldn't have made the paper. So he rang the newspaper, told them he was on his own, he had an exclusive shot so what would they like him to do?
 
They told me to pull off and get the image to the paper a decision which was made even easier when I realised the paparazzi were waiting at the other side of the tunnel. They were all over her and I thought there's nothing I can do here, she will now be covered to the finishing line and if anything was going to happen after that point they would have it covered and send it to the paper themselves. So I left it alone and jumped on a tube to where my laptop was and the office were very pleased.
 
The Mirror's picture desk receives around 35,000 images a day and Jame's photograph was one of the strongest they had received all day so good in-fact they changed page three (the second most important page in the newspaper), to run a feature on Jordan and James' image sat proudly at the top of it.
 
It was a good one to do and the other papers would look at it going where did that come from? Why didn't we get it? Of course it can be a bit of a lottery but if you do your research like I did with Jordan saying she had a bad knee you can get a good shot.
 
There's no absolute brief with this type of event. You know you need celebrities and if Gordon Ramsay runs into a tree or a girl jumps on him or whatever then you know that will become a story so you have to spread yourself a little bit and find the position that will give you the best opportunities.  This time it paid off but if Jordan hadn't stopped and sat down I would have got another shot of Jordan jogging which there were hundreds of.
 
At the end of the day it's about sticking with it until you get the shot. You stick with it all the way through because you know if the picture happens when you've just knocked off for the day you will kick yourself. You literally stay on the job until the job's done.”
Jordan and Peter Andre taken in the Blackfriars underpass with the Canon EOS 5D MkII.
Visit James Vellacott's Mirror Blog for more details.

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