Nikon make UK's finest the focus of attention

Story by Jack Foley

NEWS enthusiasts with a fond eye for pictures can relive some of the defining moments of last year by visiting the Proud Central Gallery in London as the winners of this year's 2002 Nikon Press Awards are revealed.

The presitgious awards celebrate the best of British press photography and the competition is open to all UK-based professional photographers for work taken in 2001, either published or unpublished.

Held at The Lilian Baylis Theatre, in Sadler's Wells on March 21, the 30th annual awards ceremony were judged by Greg Whitmore, editor of the Observer, celebrity photographer Richard Young, press photographer John Downing, Tony Marsh, picture editor of the Evening News in Edinburgh; Daily Mail picture editor Paul Silva; Martin Keene, head of pictures for the Press Association; and features picture editor of the Daily Telegraph, Mike Spillard.

They had to sift through 3,686 first class images from 402 entrants to come up with the eight winners and eight runners-up.

And after much deliberation, Dan Chung was announced as the Nikon Press Photographer of the Year 2002, beating runner-up Adrian Dennis, of Agence France-Presse.

Dan's winning portfolio was hailed as 'a professional all-round job - a very strong set' by the judges, and included an anti-capitalist demonstrator in Oxford Circus, who came perilously close to hitting Chung before being dragged off by his friends; Liverpool's Robbie Fowler celebrating their Worthington Cup win; and a haunting image of dead cattle carcasses burning in a Leicestershire field during the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

A photographer for nine years, Dan is now a staff photographer at Reuters, after studying photography at Sheffield and then working for the Derby Evening Telegraph and news team in Birmingham. He was also runner-up in the News Photographer award, which was won by fellow Reuters photographer Ian Waldie, whose excellent portfolio included images of Tony Blair kissing baby Leo after winning the General Election, and a strikingly lit image of an RAF Chinook on exercise in Oman.

Cavan Pawson got a special mention in the News Photographer category for his shots taken in New York as the World Trade Centre was attacked. Cavan, who was there covering New York Fashion Week for the Evening Standard, was on his way to a maternity wear show when he heard a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers.

He immediately rang his picture editor, Dave Ofield, jumped in a cab and headed for the World Trade Centre. He was standing in the street taking pictures when the first tower collapsed, and had just 45 minutes to wire them back to the Standard to meet the deadline. He ran eight blocks to his hotel, sent the pictures and then raced back to the Financial District to get pictures of the second tower.

The judges commented: 'This was the most important event of our generation, and the only way a UK photographer could have photographed it would be if they had been in New York on another assignment or on holiday. Cavan kept his cool, did his job and has produced a set of outstanding images.'

Nikon Photo Essay Photographer was Felicia Webb of Independent Photographers' Group for a moving set of images called Nil By Mouth of an anorexia victim. Runner-up was Dave Cheskin of PA News for his hard-hitting series on the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The Sports photography award went to Tom Jenkins of the Guardian/Observer for five images, including moments such as Goran Ivanisevic winning Wimbledon (pictured above), and David Beckham celebrating on the pitch. Bob Martin of Sports Illustrated was runner-up.

Tom Stoddart, of Independent Photographers Group, was named Nikon Feature Photographer of the Year, with a strong set of pictures including two from New York in the aftermath of September 11 and a 'striking' AIDS picture. John Reardon, also of IPG, was runner-up with a portfolio commended for its 'great variety'.

Regional Photographer of the Year was won by the Irish News's Ann McManus, for five images taken in Northern Ireland which the judges said worked exceptionally well together as a set and showed a strong news content. Freelance Chris Watt was runner-up, with a set including an eye-catching shot of a family living under a railway platform in Calcutta.

Arts & Entertainment Photographer was David Fisher, a freelance with LFI. David Moir of The Scotsman was runner-up, with five striking images taken in Scotland, including Rik Mayall on the loo at the Thistle Hotel in Edinburgh.

Nikon Fashion Photographer of the Year was won by Martyn Hayhow, a freelance with Agence France-Presse and Associated Press, for an unusual set of fashion shots including a model surrounded by a sea of balloons. Helen Atkinson, who freelances for the Mirror, was runner-up with a portfolio 'that reflected the diversity of fashion today', commented the judges.

Proud Central is located at 5 Buckingham Street, London WC2N and the Nikon Press Award winners can be viewed from March 29 to April 18. Tel: 020 7839 4942.

Related stories: The Images That Changed the World, Proud Galleries, 2002
From Zero to Heroes, After September 11, 2001