20 Years of Telegraph Assignments

New York, 11 September 2001

When I was a cycle courier in London in the early nineties being a professional photographer was just a dream, I'd ride around with my canon AE1 and 50 1.4 lens delivering packages and sometimes I'd pass the real news photographers at work outside the Old Bailey or on big news stories like the Bishopsgate bombing . I read books like Page After Page by Tim Page and Unreasonable Behaviour by Don McCullin with ambitions of being a war photographer travelling the world and making a difference with my images, I hadn't a clue how to go about getting a job, but you can dream right ? My lucky break came when I left the cycle despatch world and moved into working at a Pro lab developing E6 film in Camden for commercial photographers, It was a great experience and spending my days in the darkroom or sleeving transparencies gave me the chance to see professional work first hand . After about 18 months a fashion photographer by the name of Chris Moore dropped by and remembered me from my bike messenger days and offered me a job as an assistant . Before I knew it I was travelling to Milan and Paris to cover the catwalk shows and met for the first time real Fleet Street photographers . I loved sneaking backstage and shooting reportage style photos of the supermodels of the time like Carla Bruni, Kate Moss and Claudia Schiffer getting their hair and make up done, sneaking a quick cigarette and hanging out before the show started , but it wasn't spot news in far flung places .
Perhaps fate played a part , but it didn't work out for me in the world of fashion and with the help of contacts I'd made covering the shows I found myself at a London agency called National News where I worked for about 18 months covering everyday news stories  and celebrity jobs in central London. Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit were big news at the time and I spent more than my fair share of days and nights outside their house in St John's Wood with the rest of Fleet Street and TV news channels as well as the election of Tony Blair and New Labour .

Giorgio Armani's birthday dinner with Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher at Dolce in Los Angeles, September 2003

My last job for National was Princess Diana's funeral as after the odd "shift" at the Daily Telegraph I managed to get my foot in the door as their High Court Photographer . It wasn't a great job spending everyday covering courts but my day rate trebled and I was at a National paper, to me that was all that mattered , this was the Autumn of 1997 .

Asylum on the outskirts of Skopje, Macedonia 1999

It was hard to believe but late this year I realised that I had now been at the Telegraph for twenty years, I've been incredibly lucky in that time, moving from the last days of film into digital and having travelled the world covering breaking news stories, features, conflicts and for about a decade until budgets faded the catwalk shows as well .

Balenciaga show, Paris 2007

British girls , Falaraki 2002

I guess there are a few standout moments for me in the last twenty years, I was in New York on 911 as it is now known and for many years after covered the " War on Terror " in Afghanistan and Iraq, losing friends, and making others, along the way . Other conflicts have included Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Libya .

Fireman at ground zero , 11 September 2001

Missing posters, New York Armoury, September 2001

Westside Boy, Rogberri Junction, Sierra Leone 2000

Protestor Guilliani Guilliano, shot dead by Carabineri during the G8 riots in Genova, August 2001

In 2000 I had the privilege of working with the late Adrian Nicholas, a veteran skydiver and incredible human being who had the crazy idea of testing Leonardo DaVinci's design for a parachute , and proved it worked , this image was later used in National Geographic . In 2007 I followed the Ganges river from the Himalayas to the bay of Bengal and crossed Russia in it's entirety, both for early multimedia experiments  . Through all of this time up until the late 2000's I would spend a couple of months a year covering the catwalk shows in Milan, Paris and on occasion New York which gave me an incredible variety of work and meant I had the privilege to meet so many incredible people .

Adrian Nicholas tests the Da Vinci's parachute, South Africa 2002

Ganga Sagar, West Bengal 2007

Brick factory, India 2007

Inya Lake, Yangon 2013

Marsh Arabs, Iraq 2004

Varanasi, India 2007

The media world is changing a such an incredible pace now with the internet, mobile phones and digital advertising, as a result cuts have had to be made, jobs have been lost and circulation figures on newspapers and magazines have dropped globally . Incredibly there is still work out there and young photographers are making names for themselves proving that news and features photographers can still play an important role in modern society . Without a strong news media governments are answerable to no one which is why around the globe dictatorships and more oppressive regimes on Europe's fringes and other continents regularly persecute journalists and news gatherers, and each year the death rate is in the double figures .

Police at work, London May Day 2000

Policitians shake hands at a mass grave, Potocari 2005

A woman mourns over the coffin of a relative inside the Potocari Battery Factory prior to burial on the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre .

There's been countless times I've looked at colleagues work with downright envy and kicked myself , why didn't I shoot that?  Why didn't I think of that angle? Why did my focus screw up at that critical moment ?! Perhaps that's why I've always preferred Foreign to Home news , you can just get on with the story without having to constantly use your elbows and cover everything the agencies have with often three times the number of photographers . If there were a moment in my career at the Telegraph when everything just forgive the pun " clicked" for me it was in Cuba back in I think 2006 when I was on the Malecon in Havana watching the locals enjoying a day by the sea . The sky blackened and just before the heavens opened I shot a few frames of boys diving into the ocean , I knew instantly (unusual for me) that I had a great set of photos, within minutes my Canon EOS 1D mkII was rendered inoperable by a torrential downpour and took weeks to dry out , but it was worth it . I still work with Canon to this day and never intend to change .

Divers on the Malecon, Cuba 2006

Being able to take your time, put down the zooms and flashguns and get to know your subjects if possible makes all the difference covering features and assignments abroad . I was recently covering the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh for the Telegraph and found myself spending as much time playing Connect Four and drawing with some of the traumatised children as I did photographing them . If there were a list of requirements I would say that empathy, hard work and professionalism were more important than technical ability as a photojournalist, but sharp elbows and the ability to get on with others also come in very handy at times !

There's more of my work from over the last two decades with the Telegraph below and feel free to comment or ask questions .

Heathcliff O'Malley, London 30 Dec 2017

Kate Moss and Mario Testino , Milan 2006

Boatman, Varanasi 2007

Mujahideen, Taloqan 2001

A game of Buzkashi, Kabul 2002

Iraqi referendum, Tikrit 2002

Abu Ghraib prison, Baghdad 2002 

Blood on a war comic, Iraq 2003

A supporter of radical Shia cleric Moqtada Al Sadr gestures to a Marine during a demonstration in Kufa, Iraq 2003 .

A British soldier takes a light from an Afghan soldier , Helmand 2009

Usain Bolt 100m Mens Finals , London 2012

Grenadier Guards 2010

X Ray of a bullet in boys bladder, Congo 2012

Royal Wedding 

Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield competing in the 10 meter Diving Finals, London 2012

Rebel and migrant, Libya 2011

Jockey Kieren Fallon, Newbury 2013

Crimean referendum, Simferopol 2014

Sir Bradley Wiggins, Glasgow 2014

Men's 10,000m Final on Day 9 of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow .

Mo Farrah, Teddington 2014

Je Suis Charlie, Paris 2015

Vienna Opera Ball, 2015

Simon Peres, London 2015

Nyalok Mabor with her severely malnourished daughter Dalia , South Sudan 2017

Theresa May on the campaign trail, Wolverhampton 2017

Gerri Halliwell , London 2004

Trans Siberian Railway , Russia 2007


able214 said…
Top photos mate the beauty is in the eye of the holder 📷 Flowerz
Jeff Thomas said…
Wonderful work Heathcliffe

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