Veteran News Corp Australia photographer and manager Steve Grove finishes tomorrow after 43 years with the company, ending a career that began with a front page picture on his first day behind a lens.
In an interview to mark his retirement, Mr Grove said he felt privileged in his career. “I’ve had experiences another person couldn’t dream about,” he said.
Mr Grove spent 22 years out on the road and 21 behind at the desk in various roles in the photographic department. He is currently the national photographic manager, a position he has held for the past six years.
He says that from the moment he walked through the doors of Sydney afternoon newspaper, The Daily Mirror, as a copyboy in 1971, he knew he had made the right career choice.
“For that first 12-18 months, I worked as a copy boy which gave me an opportunity to see how the entire business ran, from the newsroom, to the presses, to circulation, everything,” he said.
“One day I had a day off and there was a cricket Test match on and I asked one of the photographers if I could go with him and possibly take a few shots.
“He managed to get me a media pass and I probably had the worst equipment in the whole company.
“When I was there, batsman David Hookes was hit in the face by a bouncer which broke his jaw. I snapped away, but it was a long time before digital technology, so I had no idea what I had.
“When I got back to the dark room, I started to see what was there and I thought to myself, I might have got something here.
“I took them down to the editor and the next day I had both the front and the back page. It was the first time my name had been published.”
The images were a stepping stone to a remarkable career in news photography.
“I’ve been to three Olympics and two Commonwealth Games. I rode in a helicopter under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I saw the Opera House open, I saw a US war ship fire a full broadside where all the cannons go off at once and I saw the Bicentennial celebrations and the full re-enactment on Sydney Harbour.”
Mr Grove played a critical role in the introduction of digital cameras at News. He said proper digital use had his beginnings during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
“I’d been given the opportunity to cover the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and it was the first real big international sporting event I’d been to and it showed me just how everything could work,” he said.
“I came back and said, This is something that would mean so much to Sydney.
“I also covered Atlanta in 1996 and by that stage, everything was heading full steam ahead to Sydney in 2000.
“We had 45 photographers cover Sydney and we knew that to do it justice, we needed the opportunities to get our work out as quickly as possible.
“So the company made the decision to invest in digital cameras which were just in their infancy at the time and gradually they were farmed out to all the businesses around the country.”
Mr Grove said he still misses being out on the road. “Every day you see these amazing photos come in and you know exactly the experience the photographers are having,” he said.
One thing he doesn’t miss is the amount of equipment photographers now need to carry around. “We had some pretty big contraptions when I started, but it’s nothing like it is today.”
He said he would always take photos, even in his retirement. “One thing I’m really looking forward to is being able to take some photos for enjoyment,” he said.
“I live about an hour-and-a-half north of Sydney and I’m a mad fisherman as well, so I’m looking forward to waking up and being able to check on the tides rather than the traffic conditions as well.”
New Corp Australia editorial director Campbell Reid paid tribute to Mr Grove, describing him as one of News Corp’s finest.
“From copy boy in 1971, to his current role as national photographic manager, Steve has made an enormous contribution to News,” Mr Reid said.
“We will miss the leadership and mentorship he has shown to our photographers and his never-ending commitment to quality photography.
“Personally, I will miss the support and guidance he has given me and his generous good nature.”
Interview/text: Greg Gliddon.
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