The best landscape photographers will sit in a field for days just waiting for the right light. The best news photographers are blessed with similar patience – but they also need to be lucky.
Scotland-based photographer Jeff Mitchell has just picked up three more honours for his creaking mantlepiece at the annual UK Picture Editors’ Guild Awards.
The 47-year-old Getty Images photographer is a multi-award-winning professional whose work takes him across the globe in a relentless quest to ‘capture the moment’ for an insatiable news media.
Jeff’s compelling close-up photograph of an exhausted migrant father comforting a crying infant as he tries to get through a police line to his family in Croatia, won him the title ‘News Photographer of the Year’ sponsored by Fixation, and, following his win in the Photo Essay of the Year category with an additional series of unforgettable photos, judges awarded him the Shutterstock Press Photographer of the Year honour.
“I am lucky to have what I think is the best job in the world and it is a great honour to be recognised by my peers in this way’ he said. There is no question that 2016 was a very good year for news pictures – but you still have to be in the right place at the right time to capture them. My mantra is: Be there first, leave last and never give up.
I remember the great news photographer Ken Lennox once saying: “This is your time. Make your time the best time’ – that’s what I try to do each time I go out with a camera.”
He added: “The picture of the father and the little girl happened after many hours of waiting. The police were holding the migrants back and they were all exhausted and thirsty. I picked my moment – and sometimes you just know instinctively that you’ve got the shot.”
The UK Picture Editors’ Guild Awards judges agreed:
Said Chairman of the panel Ian Day: “What a brilliant set of images from one of the biggest news years ever.”
Fiona Shields (The Guardian) added: “The news category is one of the most difficult to judge as there are so many memorable pictures. They really prove the skill of the professional in telling the story, connecting with the viewer and in making sense of an often unpredictable or chaotic news situation in a single frame.”
Fixation General Manager Michele Channer said: “Fixation has been serving professional photographers, and particularly press photographers for almost thirty years and we shall continue to do so. The News category is our customer heartland so we are delighted to be able to support our customers and the Guild.”
‘There has never been a greater need for news images and the harder I work the luckier I seem to get’ - multi-award-winning news photographer Jeff Mitchell
She added: “Over 600 professional press photographers entered these awards in eleven categories, and over 3,000 pictures were judged by ten of the country’s leading experts in press photography. Over one hundred of the entries were submitted in the News Photographer of the Year grouping.”
Winner Jeff, who also picked up a total of £2,000 in cash, praised the Guild Awards organisation. “The Guild is the true benchmark in this discipline – and at Getty the team is used to working with Fixation who sponsored the news category. Whenever we have any issue with a piece of kit we just stick it in the post or drop it off at Fixation HQ. They understand the urgent nature of our work and they always get the job done quickly for us.”