When I met up recently with my old friend, BBC Cameraman Steve Briers, I admit to feeling slightly embarrassed when he said ‘You’ve still got that old coat I see”
The coat in question, a Berghaus XYZ, was bought for me by my wife, 22 years ago …. yes, 22! At the time I was running Apex News & Picture Agency and was spending a lot of time standing in the rain covering the unfolding news story of Swampy, Britain’s first Eco-warrior and his friends attempting to stop the construction of the new A30 by digging tunnels in the path of the new road. Annette took pity on me and bought me this amazing Gortex coat, which cost so much, I was embarrassed to tell my parents exactly how much!
I needn’t have worried, I’ve certainly had my money’s worth, as this coat has proved to be an indispensable partner to a Press & PR photographer working in the often-soggy South West. Not only has it kept me 100% dry, its large pockets have kept lenses, maps, phones, notebooks and client briefing notes dry too. It’s been a ground sheet on which to kneel or lie on and take pictures and it’s been a protective sheet to cover equipment bags too and not just from the weather, for some reason dogs like to pee up camera bags!!
The coat has been very well looked after, with regular washes in Nik Wax cleaning and re-proofing products plus I’ve taken it on holiday all over the world. I had the coat before both my kids were born and they know me in nothing else!
But all good things come to an end and my friend’s comments were the beginning of the end for my waterproof friend. The coat I loved and wore almost as a badge of honour because I’d had it so long, was seen by others I realised as a tired, slightly scruffy old coat that had seen better days!
Trying to find a replacement has not been easy. The design for Extreme Weather Mountaineering coats has changed somewhat in 22 years, mainly the large pockets have been taken away as they get in the way of harnesses used by rock climbers. I’ve shopped, googled and looked at lots of coats, even coats designed for photographers but none matched up (in my opinion) to my old coat. So I was amazed, while looking on Amazon recently, an advert popped up for a waterproof coat that caught my eye, not only was it a similar design but the colour was the same and it was a Berghaus too!
A couple of clicks and the new coat was on its way. Whether it will last as long and provide such great service, only time will tell, but for now this Exeter based Press and PR photographer is happy with a smarter look.