Some personal thoughts on Tommy that Ella wanted to share
‘For me, and as I have found out recently, many others, Tommy was the person to give young photographers the chance to pursue their dream.
In 2005, I was introduced to Tommy at Wimbledon through Rusty, who was then still working at the Daily Telegraph. I queued for hours to get into the grounds, where I then met Rusty. After being given a brief by him to go out and shoot around the grounds for a day to see what I could do, he took me into Tommy’s office and introduced us. Although I had no experience, I think Tommy saw my passion to make it as a tennis photographer (and hopefully skill of some kind!) and immediately took me under his wing. He gave me a technician’s pass for those 2 weeks, something beyond my wildest dreams, and I learnt the ropes by editing, following him around the courts, shooting from the public areas and even advancing onto the court at times, bypassing security, thanks to Tommy’s famous ‘never take no for an answer’ mentality!
Under his tutelage, by the end of the week I had my first photo published on the Wimbledon website, a moment I’ll never forget!
Thanks to Tommy’s faith in me, I got to travel the globe under his name for the next 2 years, to break my way into this ultra-competitive industry. In doing so, he created further competition for himself, but all Tommy saw was the passion we shared. That says a lot about the man.
As two tennis nuts, often I would find myself at obscure tournaments around the world, with only Tommy as a friend. I remember the last 2 years in Perth especially, where I worked for the Hopman Cup and he for the ITF. During the lulls in play he would reminisce about the good old days, when there was no digital, no night sessions, no laptops, just a handful of film rolls and the whole evening free to mingle with players, eat well and get drunk! A different era, and one that Tommy had clearly been very successful in. I’ll always remember a beautifully calm morning, the two of us lying by the pool before play, talking about his early days as a local newspaper photographer, and how he made it as a successful freelancer. We had different backgrounds and different paths into the job, but what we bonded over was our ambition and devotion to get the best photo possible, and to never give up.
When people ask me ‘what’s the best photo that you’ve ever taken?’, I say ‘I haven’t taken it yet’. Who did I get that line from? You got it!!
I last saw Tommy in Monte-Carlo this April, although very briefly as I was only there for the Final. He seemed a little jaded but nevertheless crept into a seemingly nonexistent spot at the front of the photographers and started yelling madly at Novak Djokovic to get the best shot. That made me chuckle at the time, classic Tommy!
Tommy, you’ll always be with us court-side, and although it will be difficult without you there, there will be many laughs to be shared in your memory. My teacher, my friend, irreplaceable Tommy.’