A tiny bit about Tommy Campion’s life as a photographer

Below I have a display of photos I have taken over the years with my eyes closed . There are also some other pictures that people took of me, enjoy.

When I was 17 years of age I had a strong desire to be a newspaper photographer. For practice I posed a bikini girl with her back to the sun. When I got the photos back from the chemist all I could see was flare marks from the sun and the girl was as black as the inside of a cow.

The next time I photographed a bikini girl I had the sun over my left shoulder (100ASA 250 at F.11) The images were sharp and crisp but the girl was squinting. Her face was screwed up so bad she looked like she’d been jabbed in the buttocks with a cattle prod. And she had dark shadows under her eyes, nose, neck and breasts. It was a disaster.

I shot photos of people with a half a head, a quarter of a head, and finally no head at all. Then I started on the legs, cutting them at the ankles, knees, until they were legless and headless.

But I did become a photographer. I got a bit better and turned out to be a good second-rate photographer.

While I was working for the Brisbane Sun (Gold Coast bureau) I was called to the office of the Sunday Mail in Bowen Hills, Brisbane. Journalist, Des Houghton, tried to coax me away from the Sun by offering me a higher position as a photographer. They would give me more money, new cameras and a bit of this and that.

I looked at my lifestyle on the Gold Coast and how well I was being treated by the Sun and decided to stay (and I didn’t ask for more money).

When I phoned Mr Houghton to tell him I refused his job offer he returned fire by saying, “Tommy, you are good but not that good.” That about summed me up.

The readers would be bored to tears if I wrote whom I worked for over the years but whomever I did I was proud of my achievements. I treated the job with passion and tried to do the job to the best of my ability.

At times I failed miserably but some times I captured a classic. But no matter what, every day I spent with a camera in my hand was exhilarating; at times it was so amazing so beautiful I could hardly draw breath. Although at times I witnessed and photographed death and destruction; that was something all photographers had to deal with.

I loved my job – loved going to work – I could hardly wait to walk in the door. I adored the heady smell of the chemicals in the darkroom and the thrill of watching a photograph develop before my eyes was exciting. The banter between the photographers was rousing, jovial and at times bloody ridicoulous.

I reckon I only had a dozen or so sick days off in the 40 or so years I worked for newspapers. I steamed recklessly through each day with a heartfull of happiness hoping my career could go on forever. The excitement of working to a deadline was exhilarating.

I photographed; yodellers, love and affection, liars, cheats, murders, dickheads, shonky car dealers, Prince Charles, George Harrison, swooping magpies, Clint Eastwood, Spike Milligan, Dame Edna, Roy Orbison, Elton John, Marc Boland, naked women, more naked women, boxing, Prime Ministers, pig farmers, drunken sailors, Glen Campbell, drug dealers, a tragic mining disaster, three tragic bus crashes, snotty nosed kids, Don McLean, happy children, dying children, Joe Cocker, funerals, Skippy, the Hoff, Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinartra, Jeff Thompson, Dennis Lillie, more pop stars, more movie stars and twinkle, twinkle little star – the list is endless.

But all of that came to a sudden sad end. While I was working casual for the Courier Mail (Gold Coast bureau), about 13 years ago I was sacked by one of my best friends I had worked along side for over fifteen years, Courier Mail pictorial editor, Peter McNamara. (Years later I was exonerated for the inaccuracy of the wrong photograph appearing in the paper).

As I believed I had a near faultless career the words that spewed from McNamara’s mouth, “we don’t need you anymore” broke my spirit forever. I never worked full time or casual for a newspaper ever again. I was gutted like a trout and I spiralled into depression. However, I ate the trout and kicked the black dog out the door and here I am now, happy as can be.

To contact me email here