10 May 2016

Lee started working in medicine in 1986 as a theatre porter, he became a paramedic in 1998 and he has been with the motorcycle paramedic unit at Waterloo since 2007. As a London's Air Ambulance paramedic, Lee talks about his experience of our prestigious Pre-Hospital Care Course and shares his tips on how to take that perfect photo of our helicopter and rapid response cars based on his 13-year experience of capturing our team and vehicles. We hope these will inspire you to join our recently launched Charity Calendar Competition

 “I enjoyed working in the operating theatres but in my heart I am an outdoor person. I have always played a lot of sports and spent much time outdoors, and this is what I really enjoy doing, being out in London and helping people. I also really like the unpredictability of the job as you never really know what you are going to face. Sometimes it gets the adrenaline going even after 20 years being in the job.”

Lee has been helping out every year with London's Air Ambulance’s regular Pre-Hospital Care Course the latest round of which is taking place this May. 

“You are taught by people who are world-renowned experts and there is a massive amount of experience present both from doctors and paramedics. This involves reconstructing the kind of job you might face when working in a pre-hospital care advanced trauma team including major incidents.  I always learn something new helping out on these courses.”

 “We aim to create the most realistic scenarios so that participants can really prepare themselves for what they would find in real life. The realities of pre-hospital care in London can be particularly challenging: it is often raining, it can be very dark and also quite dirty. It is not a particularly pleasant environment to work in. For training we use various things to mimic body parts such as food products. We try to make obnoxious smells and use fake blood as well, or pour water on the participant’s shoulders to imitate rain. We aim to assault all the senses and thus make it really difficult for the participants to concentrate on what they actually should be doing. Because that is exactly what happens in real life.”

Lee also explains about his passion for photography: “I find photography a great way of relieving stress. Being a paramedic can often be mentally challenging. When you are taking pictures of a football game for example, you really have to concentrate on what you are doing, can’t think about work or other things. You have to get all the technological details right and you are fully immersed in capturing the perfect moment."

"And of course I also get a lot of satisfaction from the fact that the charity can use my photos on various materials which saves a lot of money. Combining my passion for pre-hospital care and photography is a great way to give back to the charity.”

“I think London's Air Ambulance’s Charity Calendar Competition is a great opportunity to encourage supporters to take and send us pictures. We quite often land on spectacular locations such as Trafalgar Square or the Royal Horseguards.”

Lee's tips on how to take the best photos of our helicopter and rapid response cars:

  • Always have your camera ready. Even if it is just a phone camera, you never know when the right opportunity presents itself. 
  • If you are taking photos of our helicopter while it is moving, you need your camera to be on continual focus and the aperture number should be quite low ai  f 2.8 f 3.5. Also, try to focus on the main body of the helicopter. You also want your shutter speed to be around 1/120 to capture the movement of the rotor blades.
  • Try to move your camera smoothly while taking the picture. And when taking pictures of our rapid response cars in the evening make sure you don’t use flash as it would only pick out the reflective surfaces.
  • Do practice a lot. You’ll only get better by making mistakes and nowadays it is far less expensive to take pictures. 
  • As a self-taught photographer I would encourage everyone to go online, check out photography blogs and videos and learn. There are so many great materials available online. 

Read more about our Photography Competition for 2017 Charity Calendar Go to Lee Parker's website for more photos