The red carpet excitement at the latest James Bond film premiere in London was a global media event – and Fylde coast showbiz photographer Dave Nelson was in the thick of it.
Dave Nelson on the red carpet at the world premiere of Bond film, No Time to Die
Dave, 56, of Poulton, was perfectly placed to snap the best shots of all the key stars from the new 007 entry, No Time to Die – including Bond actor Daniel Craig and Judy Dench, and VIPs guests including the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
There was certainly no time to waste for Dave – extraordinarily, the photos he took were in place on the pages of several national tabloids in a matter of seconds, ready for the newspapers to hit the presses.
It’s high pressure stuff, but freelancer Dave has been involved in press photography for 40 years, from the years he started as an unpaid 16 year old volunteer with the Blackpool Gazette back in 1981, taking photos of top concerts in the resort.
Over the years there have been many career highlights ,including an iconic photo he took of a then-unknown Sophie Ellis-Bextor just as her single Groovejet, with the band Spiller, reached number 1 ahead of chart rival Victoria Beckham.
And this summer Dave was at the forefront of things again when he created an England team mascot for the Daily Star – his photos of the Syd the Psychic Seagull managing to “predict” team scores proved a huge hit.
Dave, who has also found time to work as a club DJ over the years, says: “These have been very tough times for professional photographers because of the Covid restructions, like many other professions, but it helps if you are consistent and able to deliver very good pictures time and again.
“Tabloids and magazines will want to commission you if they know they can rely on you – and if you build up good contacts that helps as well.
“I’ve been fortunate to be able to attend many red carpet events over the years and I also work closely with the soap stars on a regular basis.”
However, Dave has also taken hard news photo as well as his predominately showbiz work, having been called on to record the aftermath of tragic events, such as a fatal gas explosion in Morecambe and mass shootings in Plymouth, both this year.
He said: “A lot of the time the adrenalin really kicks in, because you are up against the clock but need to get the best pictures, good enough to use on the front pages of the tabloids, if needed.”
Dave, who has a twin brother, Darren, started off in the 1980s using pre-digital cameras, with rolls of film which needed to be developed before the photos could be used – and many of these early photos were in black and white.
He said: “At the Gazette I’d work closely with their showbiz reporter Robin Duke, back in the days when top bands and artists would come to Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom or the Opera House, because there was no MEN Arena back then.
“I was there to take phots of Wham!, The Police and other huge bands, it was great experience for me.”
This eventually led to professional work, still with the challenge of having to get film developed, with certain photo labs staying open late at night to accommodate the work.
But in 1999 Dave joined the digital revolution, when new technology meant photos could be taken and used instantly on digital cameras – and even mobile phones.
He said: “It changed everything – anyone could take a picture and you could use it in minutes.
“The quality of the photos may not have been quite as sharp, but the sheer speed of the process was incredible, I knew that was the future.”