The Greater Fool

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

You might have seen the fuss over pro photographer Graham Watson. He’d tagged photos of Greg LeMond on his website with the word “fool”. When asked why he did this by a visitor to the website, he compounded the silly mistake with a dig at LeMond. Here’s the exchange on the website:

Just noticed the URL for the LeMond pics has the word “fool” in it instead of his name. Please correct this, not everyone is an Armstrong fan, and I was going to buy several prints from you, but no longer, very disappointed.

10/11/2010:
Hi Eric, I’ve not noticed that mistake, I’ll have my webmaster look at it. Sorry we cannot appease you, I’m a fan of both guys, they both did a lot for my career, just a shame one cannot keep his mouth shut.. GW 

That’s since been deleted from the site but not before it was beamed around the world. Perhaps you have views on LeMond and Armstrong but labelling LeMond as a fool is taking sides in a divisive argument. It went as far as upsetting members of the LeMond family.

Leave Watson Alone

It’s one of those silly things that happen with the internet. A throw-away word that you think nobody notices ends up permanently recorded on a server, the modern day version of being carved in stone. I’ve met Watson a couple of times and he’s struck me as a decent guy and the irony is that his career was launched in large part by selling images of Greg LeMond during the 1980s.

It’s always risky when a journalist or photographer becomes the story instead of their subjects. Given the fuss, a quick apology from Watson here might be in order but he’s only labelled someone a fool, it’s hardly the allegation of the century. Silly and unprofessional but not much more. Just hold your hands up and say sorry, admitting you went too far is a grown-up thing and will put the issue to bed.

Maybe Watson isn’t a reader but this story is a familiar one on the internet and the lesson is always that you can’t duck the issue. “Never apologise” is an old-fashioned strategy that’s hard to use in an age of digital media, networks and forums. This is a story that, for me at least, reveals more about the internet than one photographer.

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{ 8 comments }

Oliver October 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Off topic, I loved the line 'Maybe' Watson isn't a reader. Indication, as if it were needed what everyone thinks. This is the blog that everyone, from racers to the professional world is reading.

On topic, Watson has made himself look pretty dumb here. Doubt he meant as much by what he said as is being touted in forums. Just a throwaway line from someone who didn't grow up in the environment.

Just get the feeling that he won't apologise and it'll blow over anyway. Isn't that what happens in cycling?

Bianchista October 26, 2010 at 12:35 pm

pity seeing as watson no doubt made some cash over the years from Greg's image.
tbh there is a plethora of equally and moreso talented photographers capturing images of the sport, one only needs to look at photographs from the likes of Kristof Ramon, Tim De Wale, Tim Koelln, Camille McMillan etc to see we are spoilt thesedays for evocative cycling visuals. T wont get my knickers in a twist about some old guards silly comment, whilst I respect he has captured some iconic shots over the years, there is so much more offered by our contemporaries to get excited about :-)

TheInnerRing October 26, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Hi Oliver I'm sure it'll blow over. It's a lesson for us all to be careful really, it's not about one photographer.

Watson made a silly mistake but we all do these things. It's just that the internet means it's hard to escape these things.

I don't know if he's a reader but I gather The Inner Ring is read in high places.

Bianchista: oh yes, there are so many good photographers out there. But as a remark, they do hunt in a pack. At a race I visited earlier this year almost all the names you've listed were standing on the same corner to get the same image. But this doesn't happen every time.

I find the subject of sports photography fascinating. The static capture of a dynamic moment etc.

DeAchtervolger October 26, 2010 at 1:39 pm

GW is probably pretty chummy w / the riders and likely shares many of their attitudes. Being annoyed w/ GL is not a good sign for the bunch. The people who are uncomfortable w/ GL are hiding something or trying to maintain their favorite fairey tales.

TheInnerRing October 26, 2010 at 1:58 pm

DeAchtervolger: taking sides is ok but being seen to take sides is another. I don't think it's a secret that Watson's a keen supporter of Armstrong. Like I say it's a silly mistake, no more.

Anonymous October 27, 2010 at 9:17 am

Wow, he only called him a fool. As insults go that's possibly the lamest there can be, yet people got upset about it? Well at least we can be safe in the knowledge people are thinking about the important things here! :D

Simon E October 28, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I have always found that everything is sorted sooner and more satisfactorily when the culprit admits they made a mistake. The embarrassment is short-lived, whereas denial leads to mistrust.

A related rule I follow: don't lie, as you will ALWAYS get found out sooner or later.

Anonymous November 6, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Funny, when I found the "Fool" URL originally, here was his BS reply back to me via email before posting what he posted on his "Ask Graham" page-

"Eric, thanks for pointing out the URL 'fool' of Greg LeMond's gallery – all our riders galleries' have pet names, and someone went in and changed the original one for 'fool'. We've just changed our access codes so it should not happen again. I actually answered your original question to me on gw.com. Sorry for the upset caused.

Graham Watson"

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