Veteran DC Thomson photographer, Dougie Nicolson, has brought the curtain down on a 40-year career that took him from the cockpit of a fighter jet to shaking hands with Clint Eastwood.
In the age of digital photography and smart phones it may seem like another world, but newspaper images were still processed in a dark room using wet plates when he began working in the lab.
It wasn’t until 12 years into his role that photographers began using colour film and Dougie processed coloured images at the new Kingsway premises.
Despite enjoying his time in the lab and making great friends, some of whom still work at the company today, in 1999 Dougie turned from processing the photos to taking them, first for the Courier and then the Tele.
The 57-year-old said: “I have met some lovely people from all walks of life over my career, and met lots of celebrities too.
“The first one I met was Joanna Lumley, when she was appearing in The Cherry Orchard at the Dundee Rep, she was very pleasant.
“The other two memorable famous people I have had the pleasure of meeting were Clint Eastwood and Richard Branson.
“I was sent to the Old Course in St Andrews as we knew Clint Eastwood was going to be playing at 8.30am as he was looking at golf courses around Fife. He was making a film about golf which eventually fell through.
“I couldn’t believe it when they said they would send me because I was daft on Clint, and I still am. I was thrilled to meet him, he was so softly spoken and had a great big hand when I shook it – and so tall. He definitely lived up to my expectations.
“Richard Branson is also someone I had admired for a while. He was appearing as a surprise guest at an entrepreneurial conference in Gleneagles where none of the guests knew he was going to be there.
“I took a copy of his autobiography to chance my luck and he was so nice and so down to earth and even agreed to get a photo with me which I asked if I could print a copy of and send it to him to sign.
“I didn’t expect anything from it but when I went into the office a few weeks later there it was on the desk. He exceeded my expectations.”
A self-confessed petrolhead, Dougie’s career highlights also include meeting his racing heroes and trying his hand at rally driving.
He added: “I have been fortunate enough to cover five Formula 1 British Grand Prix’s at Silverstone and through that I met my Formula 1 hero, the late great Ayrton Senna.
“I actually spoke to him and shook him by the hand and was just totally star struck. When I saw him from afar I couldn’t believe I was even breathing the same air as him.”
Thrill-seeking trip in a fighter jet
Dougie’s thrill-seeking also saw him fly with the Red Arrows and try his hand with the RAF.
“I suppose the highlight of my career was the day I flew in the back seat of a 43 Squadron Tornado F3, from RAF Leuchars.
“Two hours of my life I will never forget. There aren’t many people I bet that have flown at the speed of sound in a fighter jet, and pulled 7.5G.”
It was also during his career with DC Thomson that he met future wife Pauline – together they had a daughter, Olivia, who is now 21.
Now that he has hung up his camera for the final time, our much-loved photographer Dougie plans to enjoy his retirement by going on long walks with his dog and improving his golf handicap.