Photographers Shine at BT Press Photographer of the Year Awards

March 12th 2015

Northern Ireland’s top photojournalists were recognised tonight (Thursday 12 March) at the BT Press Photographer of the Year awards, which took place at a gala dinner in Belfast City Hall, by kind permission of the Lord Mayor, Cllr Nichola Mallon.

Organised by the Northern Ireland Press Photographers Association (NIPPA), and sponsored by BT, the competition attracted almost 400 entries from over 30 photographers across the country.  Forty one prizes spanning nine categories, ten merit awards, one runner up and two overall winners were awarded

The event not only recognised the very best in press photography in Northern Ireland, but it also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Northern Ireland Press Photographers’ Association.  On the night, an exhibition was on display showcasing 40 iconic images from the last 40 years of press photography in Northern Ireland.   The awards ceremony was hosted by Depaul president and broadcasting legend Sir Trevor McDonald OBE, raising over £XXX for Depaul, a cross-border charity that works with people who are homeless, or are at risk of homelessness. 

Charles McQuillan, Getty Images / Pacemaker Press, snapped up the coveted BT Photographer of the Year award with William Cherry, Press Eye named runner up. The title of BT Provincial Photographer of the Year was awarded to John McVitty, Impartial Reporter, for the third year in a row.  John was also crowned the Coca Cola Business / PR Photographer of the Year for his picture “Cleaning Up” which showed volunteers preparing for a ‘Friends of the Cancer Centre’ fundraising event.

“We were absolutely delighted with the quantity and calibre of pictures entered in this year’s competition,” said Bill Smyth, NIPPA Chairman. “There is an enormous pool of talent in Northern Ireland and we’re thrilled that through this competition their creativity, skill and passion for photography can be recognised.”

Paul Convery, Head of BT Business said;

This is a proud association for BT. Innovation, creativity, and perseverance are as integral to our business as they are to the creation of that ‘winning photograph’. Congratulations to all who have made the NI Press Photographers Association so successful over the past 40 years and to everyone who has submitted an entry into the competition this year.”

Paddy Barker from the Irish Examiner and the Daily Mirror’s John Mead judged the entries. Paddy commented: “Both John and I were extremely impressed by the quality of images that we were asked to judge.  We were delighted to agree upon a much deserved winner, whose portfolio covered many of the major events from last year. The winner is a truly talented and versatile photographer - the type of photojournalist that a picture editor wants on his team.”

Official sponsor BT, presented the overall award to the NI Press Photographer of the year, along with the Provincial Press Photographer of the Year award.  In addition, BT employees judged a special award around the theme of business innovation which was won by John McVitty, Impartial Reporter.     

The Youth in Sport award was introduced by Dame Mary Peters for the photograph that best reflected a young person/people engaged in a sporting activity, and was launched in 2011 in memory of John Harrison.  The winner, John McVitty, was presented with the John Harrison Memorial Trophy.

The competition comprised of nine categories:  news, people, politics, sports action, sports feature, features, individual study, business/PR and picture stories.  The overall winner awards were: Photographer of the Year, Runner up Photographer of the Year and Provincial Photographer of the Year.  There were also ten merit awards, a BT Award and a special Youth in Sport Award.