- Title: UK: Longest-serving resident snapper at Heathrow shows no signs of checking out
- Date: 6th August 2010
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) DENNIS STONE, RESIDENT PHOTOGRAPHER AT HEATHROW AIRPORT FOR 64 YEARS, SAYING: "We had to put a bulb in. And you had to set the shutter and you had to focus. And then come back here to fire it. But first of all you'd have to pull the sheet out to expose the film." CLOSE UP OF STONE WINDING OLD FASHIONED CAMERA TO 'TAKE PHOTO'
- Embargoed: 21st August 2010 02:00
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Transport
- Reuters ID: LVA9XXB444HEI7QY3P4C80TOROEO
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: He's been working at Heathrow airport for more than six decades, but 78-year-old Dennis Stone is showing no signs of checking out.
He's the longest-serving resident photographer at the airport and's been honoured with the "Freedom of the Airport" - the first time anyone has been given the 'key' to Heathrow.
Stone has taken hundreds of thousands of photographs of celebrities, royals and politicians over his many years of working at Heathrow.
Proudly sporting his new giant gold key along with his security credentials, Stone said it was "wonderful".
To mark the occasion British Airports Authority (BAA) is exhibiting some of Stone's work in Terminal 5 and giving away 5,000 copies of a new book "A Life At the Airport - A Heathrow Photographer" which collates some of Stone's most iconic works.
Stone got to know many of the celebrities well and some have even become friends after years of being greeted by Stone and his flashing bulbs upon touch down in London.
"The stars have been super. Enjoyable. A lot of them have become friends, like Paul McCartney and Joan (Collins) are good friends. Goldie Hawn's a good friend. I've been kissed by Cher. Peter O'Toole's a lovely man, lovely character of a man," Stone told Reuters Television.
Eartha Kitt used to always give him a cheeky pose, Ozzy Osbourne would blow him a raspberry, George Michael would shyly allow him a snap and Paul McCartney would allow him to film his children before his stardom became so huge worldwide.
Royals and Royal pets are a firm favourite of Stone's - they're guaranteed to make the front pages, especially if it's the Queen's Corgi dogs racing down the airplane steps ahead of Her Majesty.
He said on the most part celebrities are happy to be snapped, but he was too discreet to detail the acknowledged few occasions when stars have been unhappy at what he's caught on camera.
One of his favourite photographs is of Virgin boss Richard Branson and his mother. Stone persuaded Branson's elderly mother to dress up as an air stewardess, a former job of hers. He was then present with his camera when she surprised her son by serving him a glass of champagne onboard a Virgin flight.
He said: "It made me feel good, her feel good and he was thrilled to pieces."
Stone has seen massive changes at Heathrow airport, which has gone from 1 to 5 terminals in his lifetime. He's also experienced incredible changes in technology.
Gone are the days of frantically winding film in the hope he'd catch a good picture. Now-a-days with digital cameras he can shoot 500 snaps in 5 minutes as opposed to just 2.
It's made getting the personal, quirky shots much easier, but he said he'd never swap his experiences with his 5X4 Pacemaker Speed Graphic camera.
"Young photographers these days don't know how easy it is compared to when you had to do it like this," he said holding up his heavy old-fashioned camera.
Stone left school at 14 years old and became a post boy for British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) an earlier version of British Airways. He'd delivery mail around the airport and Box Brownie in hand take pictures of all the aircraft. His passion led to him being appointed apprentice to photography division at 16 and 4 years later he was their official photographer, mainly filming planes and BOAC destinations.
It was a chance shot of a plane crash landing at Heathrow without a nose wheel that led him to become freelance photographer at Heathrow for British newspapers.
And that's what set him on the path of more than 3 decades as celebrity snapper serving every British newspaper.
With his gentlemanly ways and keen eye for the "money shot" BAA was delighted to honour him with the Freedom of the AIrport.
"Heathrow is a fascinating place, there are millions of people coming and going every year and we want to just capture some of those special moments, some of the high profile people who come through here and give them a greater showing. Dennis has been doing that for many years. He's as much a character here as anyone else and Heathrow is bought to life by its people," said Malcolm Robertson, Director of Communications for BAA.
At 78 years Stone has no plans to retire. He said he lives and breathes life at the airport in a job where you never know who's going to come round the corner next.
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