John Gichigi(John Gee)

In 1974 I joined the University of Westminster in London to study Architecture and from day one they gave us cameras and showed us how to process film. I was hooked instantly! Within weeks I bought my own camera (Practica LTL) and converted my bedroom into a darkroom. I photographed anything and everything and within a year I had switched courses to Photography.

 

In 1979 after a spell doing commissioned freelance photography for various companies and magazines I was introduced to and joined Allsport, the global Sports Photo agency now better known as Getty Images. This was to be the start of a 30 year journey taking in ten Olympics, numerous world title fights and most major sports events at the highest level. Olympics covered were LA, Seoul, Lillihamer, Atlanta, Nagano, Salt Lake, Athens, Turin, Beijing and Vancouver. I was made official photographer by the Olympic Committee (IOC) from Lillihammer Winter games (1994) onwards. to deliver comprehensive coverage of the Olympics for their archives.

I have travelled worldwide, met and photographed numerous personalities from the worlds of Sports and Politics including names such as Tyson, Beckham, Zidane, Michael Jordan, Bolt, Beyonce, The Queen, Obama and Mandela to name just a few.

My pictures have appeared in most publications around the world. To succeed at the highest level in photography you tend to specialise in a few areas and because as a youngster I boxed at amateur level it became a natural subject for me alongside rugby, and studio photography.

I remain as passionate in the medium as that first day at University in 1974 and consider myself lucky to work in an industry I love.

Here are some memorable moments that money can’t buy.

  • Taking a direct hit in a delicate area by a ball kicked by the great Brazilian legend Ronaldinho during a photo shoot in Spain. No complaint. I just fell over!
  • Getting flattened by a 20 stone rugby player while covering a game in Bath, UK then having to queue up with other injured players to have stitches in my lip and cheek. I felt physically sick but held it together because I didn’t want to appear a wimp.
  •  Getting a massive cheer from the football crowd behind me when a high ball landed squarely on my head at a Chelsea game. I took a bow when I finally came round!
  • Being frozen on the spot when Mike Tyson glared straight at me after someone asked a question behind me about his rape case. I have never been so scared.
  • Parking my beaten up car inside Buckingham Palace grounds then having dinner in the Presidential Suite during a London Olympics job. King for a day!
  • Using the gents in No 10 Downing Street during John Major’s reign as Prime Minister when I was the official photographer for the British team after the Round the world sailing race. When nature calls….
  • Being selected as the only photographer to accompany David Beckham in his car for a publicity tour of Singapore. I now know what it feels like to be a superstar if only for a day.
  • Being one of only two photographers in front of the London bid team and capturing the raw emotions when they were announced as winners to host the 2012 Olympics. The other ten photographers were in front of the hot favourites Paris! Right place right time.
John Gichigi(John Gee)