FROM hair-raising creations, to scrums on the rugby pitch and kite-surfers being propelled into the air, Limerick photographers had their eye on some of the biggest events over the past year.
At the Press Photographers Association of Ireland awards at the weekend, six local photographers of national acclaim were recognised for their work which made the front pages of many national and local papers.
Among them was Alan Place, from Corbally, who has combined his love of water sports and photography to capture sporting events from a very different angle from the norm by being positioned underwater himself.
Not only did he take home second prize in sports action category - for his image of a Limerickman taking the plunge at the Pat Lawler memorial diving competition in Kilkee - but he also won further praise from the judges, with three commendations across three categories.
Among them was his captivating image showing the solitude of life of open-water swimmer Chris Bryan, training in UL’s sport performance centre ahead of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. His image of Evan McMahon from Dooradoyle holding his nose as he plummeted under the water at the Pollock Holes in Kilkee was also commended in the daily life and people category. Alan said he was delighted to be recognised given the strength of the images nominated from across the country.
“It’s great to be able to combine two things I love - photography and water sports - and I’m just getting to the point where I’m comfortable with it now, as the equipment can be fairly clunky under water. Some of the work on display is amazing, so it’s excellent to be a part of that,” said Alan, a photographer of 17 years.
Another water themed sport also saw photographer Sean Curtin - Alan’s collaborative partner in Fusion Shooters - commended for his image of a kite-surfer propelled in mid-air in the Redbull Storm Chase competition in county Kerry. Sean was also commended in the portrait category for his image of Ellamae McCarthy, a pupil at Our Lady’s Abbey National school in Adare, after she won an art competition.
Brian Arthur, from Newmarket-on-Fergus in Co Clare, and of the Limerick based agency Press22, was commended in the portrait category for his iconic black and white image of Malala Yousafzai waving to the crowd as she took to the podium in Tipperary, where she received an international peace award.
Munster and Ireland rugby player Paul O’Connell was the focus of two winning and commended images, with Dan Sheridan of the INPHO sports photography agency taking first prize in the sports action category, as O’Connell was gripped in a headlock against Edinburgh during a Heineken Cup match. Brian Gavin of Press 22 also captured him in a dramatic side profile during an interview in the UL Arena. “I’m absolutely thrilled. It’s always a great pleasure to have your work recognised in that way, and it’s always a pleasure to photograph Paul O’Connell because he’s such a gent,” said Brian, who was commended on this occasion, and won news photographer of the year five years ago.
Diarmuid Greene, 26, from Pallasgreen, was celebrating on the double this week as two of his pictures, in the fields of rugby and hurling, received commendations at the PPAIs. His black and white scrum photo, taken during the Munster Schools Senior Cup Semi-Final between Crescent College Comprehensive and CBC Cork, was also awarded second place in sports action at the FIPCOM (the Fujairah International Photojournalism Competition) international press photography awards announced this week.
Along with the other winners in FIPCOM, his photograph will be on display in an exhibition in Paris from March 14 for a month. Diarmuid joined the national photographic agency Sportsfile in 2008, after he studied photography at Limerick College of Further Education and was awarded Sports Photographer of the Year at the student media awards.
Kieran Clancy was also commended in the arts and entertainment category for his eye-catching image of a model at a hair show in Cork, which made the front pages of both The Irish Times and The Irish Examiner last year.
The most prestigious award on the night, Photojournalist of the Year 2014, was presented by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to Julien Behal, his second time to take home this award, which he dedicated to his brother who passed away last year.
Across nine categories, almost 2,000 images were entered by 112 photojournalists from around Ireland, with 28 awards presented in the categories of news, daily life, sports action, sports feature, portrait, environment, politics, arts & entertainment and reportage, as well as the overall title of AIB Photojournalist of the Year 2014.