Weekly/Sunday Photographer of the Year

Scroll down to meet the nominees for Weekly/Sunday Photographer of the Year, sponsored by PA Media.

News, sports and features pictures used in a weekly newspaper are eligible. Judges will look for versatility, technical skill and the ability to capture the picture that matters. 

The Shortlist

Colm O’Reilly, Sunday Life

Supporting statement:

When her husband was brutally murdered brave Ellie Ward struggled to go on – but the news that the man charged with the killing was like a brother to slain amateur boxer Pat added so much more to her misery.

Mrs Ward couldn’t hold back her tears as she exclusively told how Niall Cox had been a life-long friend to her partner. The raw emotion is etched on her face as the distraught mum-of-four fought to come to terms with the fact that the love of her life may have been murdered by his best friend. This picture (above) was used as the main image in a series showing the anguish that Ellie was going through while telling of her love for her tragic husband.

Heroes come in all shapes in sizes – but few are braver that Bernadette Hagans.

The 23-year-old (above) from Belfast is enjoying a new career as a model and has emerged as a champion for cancer charities after losing her right leg to the disease. The inspirational role model for people with disability has already raised thousands of pounds for charities across Northern Ireland and this is only the beginning. I decided to bring Bernadette to a part of town with plenty of colour and used outside studio lighting for the model’s photographs. I believe that my use of lighting helped give Bernadette’s picture a real pop and brought extra depth to the image.

Are ewe having a laugh? Young Neale Fleming can’t believe he’s won a first place at the annual Balmoral Show.

Northern Ireland’s largest agri-food event showcases prize-winning livestock, impressive farm machinery and agricultural expertise and attracts thousands of visitors to the event each May. The proud 11-year-old can’t hide his grin… and even his woolly friend looks impressed. This is a strong image as both Neale and his sheep seem equally proud of winning their award. I believe it’s very different to the agri and livestock images usually produced.

The judges said:  

What a cracking set of images. The emotion caught on the face of the recently widowed woman is one to stay with you. As soon as I opened this image I was pulled in, I returned to this images time and time again and felt the pain. The image of the young model is well shot technically and there is clearly a connection between photographer and subject and the boy with the sheep is a fun image which fills you with joy. This photographer has a special way of enabling his subjects to engage with the viewer.

Dave Kneale, Isle of Man Examiner

The Isle of Man is a hidden gem. It maintains its own Parliament, judiciary and distinctive culture, and deserves to be seen beyond the negative headlines and tired stereotypes. I create and deliver news, sport, business and lifestyle images for Isle of Man Newspapers’ stable of publications, comprising three printed weekly newspapers, website, social media platforms and a suite of supplementary publications. The schedule is punishing and the work requires constant improvisation – I hope these images demonstrate the range of my work and some of the skills involved. With luck my brilliant and dedicated colleagues might put themselves forward in future.

Nigel Farage was obliging when I dragged him away from a meet-and-greet: this one-light, two-minute portrait might be the definition of ‘run and gun’. Mr Farage clearly knows his audience and understands his own image – he was not to be parted from his glass of wine. The entire evening, and the entertainer at its centre, had the feeling of an end-of-the-pier show – I tried to capture the mood by incorporating the slightly-faded glitz of the function room.

The trip into the Great Laxey Mine is an equipment-breaker: claustrophobic crawl spaces, knee-deep water and mud everywhere. This image was captured about a kilometre into the mine, in one of the few chambers where the ceiling was above head height. The image was intended to create a sense of scale, exploration and wonder in a space that cannot be seen by the public. It was achieved with two lights: a speedlight located behind the subject, while my head torch acted as a fill light.

The Senior TT is the undisputed highlight of the Manx  sporting calendar. Superbikes race on closed public roads through villages, glens and over mountains at speeds of up to 200mph. It’s a dangerous business – racing might be stopped at any moment, so every shot counts. The Senior TT is the biggest race of the year: you can hear the bikes long before they arrive; they flash past and disappear before you can take a breath. In this spot approaching Ramsey, the riders are flickering in and out of the shadows under the trees. Manual exposures are the best option: I caught this image of race winner Dean Harrison on the first lap. It was the first bike on the road and the first chance to see if my educated guesswork on the exposure had paid off.

Judges’ Comments:  

A great variety of work here. Consistently great pictures across a range of subjects.

Ian Longthorne, Maidenhead Advertiser

I’m submitting three photos as a weekly photographer working for the independent newspaper, the Maidenhead Advertiser. 

The photo of a juggling street performer took place in Maidenheads shopping mall, The Nicholson Centre. Named ‘Terrific Tuesdays’ the centre hosts a new entertainer each Tuesday over the school holidays for families to attend. Matt Pang was very popular and his juggling skills were very impressive. I managed to catch an unusual but striking moment.

I’ve been photographing the swan upping for the last few years but the tradition dates back to the 12th century. Travelling up the Thames from London I joined the boats (in a press boat) at Windsor and travelled up to Cookham as the swan uppers carried out the census, counting and tagging all the cygnets. As the boats circle the swans they have to be quick to catch them but it doesn’t take long to record the measurements and tag them before releasing the swans back into the river. The photo (below) tries to convey the speed that the swans were caught and lifted out of water.

When she was Prime Minister Theresa May would always find time to visit her local constituency. In this case she was on hand to open the new Holyport Book Booth. A converted phone box which now holds a library of books. Mrs May donated her own novel, Dissolution by CJ Sansom and added a written note for the recipient. The portrait was shot through the glass of the booth and adds a surreal atmosphere to the photo.

Judges’ Comments:  

Great timing to capture the picture of the juggler. One of the best images submitted.

Some great photos. A trio of images showing a range of skills. The juggler is fun and perfectly timed.

Mark Williamson, Stratford-upon-Avon Herald

The three photos submitted hopefully illustrate the wide variety of work undertaken by a news photographer with images reflecting on passion, dedication and a family’s joy of being together.  

Image one was captured as an amateur bowler showed his sheer joy in taking a wicket in a final at the Edgbaston test cricket ground.

In image two, a touching moment as soldier’s son on the shoulders of his mother is together with his father again.

Chips the dog, illustrated in image three, is the barking mad sporting canine who follows every ball with a passion at whatever event he attends making him a local news celebrity wherever he goes.

Judges’ Comments:  

A brilliant sport shot of the wicket taker, really captures the emotion. A really well shot image of the dog, nice low angle with good use of flash. An excellent portfolio of pictures across a range of topics. There’s a lovely cross-section of work here from hard news, a cracking sports picture and lovely portrait.

Michael Gillen, The Falkirk Herald

Supporting statement:

Michael constantly produces photography of the highest standard and has been shortlisted at the Regional Press Awards on seven occasions in the last eight years.

He was the runner-up in the Regional Press Awards Weekly Photographer of the Year 2017, having taken the same prize in 2016 and after winning the category four years ago. Evident that still after 34 years in photography improving his standard of photography is a key motivator.

Born in Glasgow and raised in Bishopbriggs, Michael began his career in professional photography in 1986. He joined Johnston Press in 1997 working at the Kirkintilloch Herald before heading for Falkirk in 2001 to take up the role of Chief Photographer with The Falkirk Herald. Since 2014 combining his role at The Falkirk Herald with his wider role as Images Editor now for JPIMedia Scottish Weeklies.

This role puts restrictions on his time behind the camera but out in the community that knows him as ‘The Falkirk Herald Guy’ is where he’s happiest striving to produce the best quality of photography possible.

03-11-2019. Picture Michael Gillen. 2.30pm – GRANGEMOUTH. Grangemouth Town Hall. Prepublicity pic for Falkirk Youth Theatre’s Legally Blonde. Pictured Lokie a Johnson American Bulldog who plays Rufus and Mollie a teacup Chihuahua who plays Bruiser.
03-03-2019. Picture Michael Gillen. GLASGOW. Emirates Arena. 35th European Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 2019. Shelayne Oskan-Clarke of Great Britain wins gold in the final of the women’s 800m.

Judges’ Comments:  

Good use of shutter speed to make an average picture more interesting. Three images which show an ability to capture a moment and set up an image but also add interest to an otherwise ordinary running shot.

There’s some brilliant photography here – every one of us would want to have taken that picture of the two dogs. Three very usable eye catching and different images.

Stuart Walker, The Cumberland News

Supporting statement:

Big Fella statue unveiled.

It was the dying wish of local man Peter Richardson that after his passing a statue of himself and his dog be built along the sea front at Silloth. Peter was often seen walking his dog along the front and sitting on one of the benches looking at the view. The twice life size artwork was designed and built by Ray Lonsdale whose works include the famous World War One Tommy sculpture at Seaham in the North East of England. The piece is impressive in its size, but I wanted to show this scale. I asked Peter’s son Paul if he would sit on the bench alongside the statue of his father to illustrate this scale and a nice poignant image of the two of them together. 

Whisky Shop Silhouette.

A photo to illustrate a news piece about whisky prior to Burns Night in January. A new shop specializing in whiskies was part of the story. A previous visit had alerted to me to the interesting shop window with its stained glass and window display of bottles of whisky illuminated by the window light. I had the idea to use the store owner to hold up a glass of whisky to the light showing the golden liquid as though sampling, while he was in silhouette framed by the window and bottles. Technically slightly tricky to get the right balance of light.

Murmuration of Starlings in the shape of a bird

In Autumn at dusk, flocks of starlings can be seen gathering into one large flock or murmuration as it’s called before roosting in reed beds. Thousands of the birds gather like this as a form of protection from predators such as sparrow hawks. The large mass of bird’s swoop and swirl in a form of aerial defence before dropping into the reed beds below. It is one of nature’s amazing sights with the totally random shapes that the birds form in the sky. Knowing of a spot where thousands of the birds congregate, I headed out one clear cold evening to try and capture them. The numbers of birds were down on previous years due to destruction of habitat and the cold winter of 2018 but there were still a few thousand flying in from all directions to perform this nightly ritual. I set up in a spot I know and waited. The random nature of flight is really a lottery for the photographer wishing to capture this sight. This time I was lucky, the birds formed a shape looking like the shape of a much bigger bird in flight. Seconds later they changed direction and shape before roosting just as the last bits of daylight fade out.

Judges’ Comments:  

A great selection of 3 images which show creativity, patience and a sense of fun. All these pictures are worthy of the front page.

Just love the starling picture.

Three striking story telling images.