My Top 5 (well, six) of 2011

I thought I’d put together a blog post of my favourite images I have taken this year. A press photographer’s job is a varied one and I have chosen the pictures because they are my favourite events I covered this year not necessarily because they represent the strongest news stories I covered during the year.

1. The Royal Wedding
Like most photographers in the UK, I covered the royal wedding of HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton. On the actual day I covered the screening of the wedding at Hyde Park in Central London where thousands had gathered to watch. My favourite picture from was actually taken the day before the event and features The Royal Irish Guards having a group photograph taken to mark the occasion before going on duty at the wedding. I stumbled across the picture whilst walking past the barracks where the soldiers are stationed. I think it’s a fun picture and shows the enormous pride taken by our armed forces in covering a significant ceremonial event. You can imagine the photo they received being passed around family and hung in pride of place to assist in the telling of their experience of the day.

2. The Tattoo Convention
Often, the best pictures come from the quirkiest of jobs. I took myself along to the 7th Annual Tattoo Convention in London’s Docklands. I wandered around for a good few hours and snapped some interesting pictures. I had some lunch in a cafe and filed my pictures for the day, with the intention of setting off home. As I left the cafe there was a scrum of fans with cameras around three young men who were showing off their tattooed torsos. The men were stood against lots of posters and in direct sunlight and by the time I reached them were already getting dressed again. The picture would have been messy anyway and the moment had passed, but as I walked away, I thought I’d go and ask if they wouldn’t mind posing for me. I followed them to their stall and asked. Within seconds they were around the side of the stall and had removed their tops, then, without prompting they dropped their trousers revealing further tattoos on their legs. I took three frames and I think this is the strongest, I particularly like the way the central figure is straightening his glasses.

3. The Queen visits Downing Street
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were visiting 10 Downing Street for lunch with David Cameron and his wife Samantha. Visits to the street by the Queen are rare, with the last time being in 2002 when Tony Blair was Prime Minister. The royal couple arrived and were greeted by the Camerons. This picture shows a wonderful moment where a mumbling Duke of Edinburgh steps away from an arranged posed picture in frustration of having to pose at all. I love the apparent sternness of the Queen as she ignores her husband, and the look on the Prime Minister’s face as the photo-call comes to an abrupt end, with his wife trying to laugh off the Duke’s actions. Everything about the picture is clumsy and awkward, even down to the positioning on the red carpet.  It was taken by a remote camera positioned on the street, whilst I clicked away with a larger lens.

4. Brighton Beach
Every working photographer has to do weather pictures as part of their living. The British newspapers and even some foreign publications obsess about the weather. The good thing is that in the summer (when the weather behaves) it can be a joy to get paid for taking pictures whilst strolling around in the sunshine all day. The challenge is to be different. I think this picture of a solitary man on beach works well. It was used online and internationally.

5. Occupy London
I went to photograph the protest camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral in Central London. The camp had been there for a good few weeks now and I was just going along to get a ‘today’ picture. When I arrived there was a group of protesters involved in shutting down a branch of the Natwest bank nearby. They managed to do this successfully and proceeded to sit outside blocking the entrance. The police did not intervene. One member of the group beckoned me to watch what he was about to do. He pulled out a £10 note and rolled it up in his fingers before setting fire to it. Given what their protest and others across the world are about, and given the state of the UK economy, I thought this was an interesting way of making a point.

6. Justin Beiber
Well, what can I say? I had to go and see what all the fuss was about. I had heard Justin Beiber was turning on the Christmas lights at Westfield, London. I got myself accredited and went along with the intention of doing a news picture of the event. Once there, the event was so stage-managed it was practically impossible to get a vantage point that I wasn’t asked to leave or allowed to shoot from, so like the rest of the 50 or so photographers, I was ushered into a red carpet line up. After a significant amount of time (I’ve waited less for presidents!) Justin Beiber turned up, a normal gangly teenager . He walked along the stage, stopping occasionally at marked points to have his photograph taken in a blaze of flashes. He continued all the way along and tried to step off the other end before realising it was a wall – he then had to walk all the way back the way he had come. This is a picture of him, lit by catch flash, smiling to his ‘people’ after he realised his mistake.

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