From the dusty plains of Kenya to the frozen forests of Eastern Europe, the British Army has never been busier overseas or at home. Each moment, each exercise and theatre of operation skilfully and creatively captured by professional Army photographers for generations, current and future, to appreciate the work being done by the British soldier.
The Army Photographic Competition 2018 winners have been announced today with professional photographer Corporal Tom Evans taking the Photographer of the Year Award with his professional portfolio of images portraying military life during the past 12 months.
Tom, aged 33 from Newbury, Berkshire, said it had been an “amazing and very busy year”, as he also scooped the Best Overall Image for a stunning photo entitled ‘Guardian Angel’.
“Being a photographer is the best job in the Army,” said Tom who is based in Brecon, Wales. “I get to see the whole Army, every trade and every cap badge and see them at work in so many exciting and varied places across the world. That gives us a unique perspective on it all.”
Tom has visited Canada, Afghanistan, Kenya, Estonia and Poland with his work. He credits some of his success to wife Jen, who he says plays a massive role. “She is what is behind all this. She puts up with me coming and going for long periods and is always there to give my work her honest critique when I ask,” he says.
“What inspires me is looking back at our history as Army photographers,” says father of two Tom, who is currently on deployment in Norway. “The AFPU (Army Film and Photographic unit) filmed and photographed the major battles of World War Two. They even won two Oscars. It’s humbling to be part of that tradition.”
At home, whether on ceremonial duties, guarding the royal palaces and looking picture perfect for Harry and Meghan’s wedding, or putting out fires on Saddleworth Moor in support of the Fire Service, British soldiers hard at work are often pictured on the front page of the national newspapers…. Courtesy of British Army Photographers.
Last year more than 50,000 soldiers deployed to more than 55 countries on operations, defence engagement and training, and wherever the Army goes a professional Army photographer, who is also a fully trained soldier, will be there to record the action.
Each moment captured is quite possibly in some cases a life-altering moment for someone, particularly with regard to the Army medics and dentists treating communities in rural Kenya, as portrayed in the Pro Story category by winner Corporal Becky Brown.
First aid kit to camera kit
Becky, 27 from Beverley, North Yorkshire, won both the Pro Story and Pro Portrait categories and also came a close second in the Pro-Soldiering category. She was delighted to win as three years ago, before she joined the photographic trade, she won an Amateur category.
“It’s actually really quite special,” said Becky. “Back in 2015 when I was a Combat Medical Technician, I won the amateur portrait category, so to win it again now as a professional photographer is really quite special.”
Describing her winning portrait, Becky, who also made it to the final 20 of the Ice Maidens, said: “I was on a deployment to Kabul on Op Toral with the combat camera team. Our job was to film and photograph different roles out there, and explain to the general public what our guys were doing out there.
“While my colleagues were interviewing one of the Welsh Guards, I was setting up my portrait shot, so I borrowed one of the lads to set up my shot, while I was setting up and he was not aware I was I was taking his photo, I managed to catch a nice smile. I think a lot of people can relate to his expression. Our guys do genuinely enjoy their jobs when they’re away from home and out on the ground.”
Becky, who works at Army Headquarters in Andover, said: “I joined the Army as a medic but I always knew in the back of my mind I wanted to be an Army photographer. It was a case of working hard and promoting to Lance Corporal to then be able to apply. I attended a one-week selection and luckily for me I was successful and since then It’s really taken off and I’ve not really stopped.”
There were two new categories for 2018, Operation Smart Phone, which was won by Cpl Lee Matthews of the RAF, and Operation Camera, which was won by Sergeant Pete George, also of the RAF. Both categories were open to civilians and military personnel shooting photographs and video with an Army theme.
Command Master Photographer WO1 Will Craig said: “This year we have seen more than 1500 entries, the largest ever seen. There have been some great images. This year’s oldest entry was from a grandad aged 80 and the youngest was from a 12-year-old cadet.
“I wanted to open the photo competition up and give the general public and serving personnel an opportunity to film with their smart phone as long as it had an army theme. We had a few entries this year but we always welcome more as it’s so simple to enter.
“This is my last competition and I hope everyone has enjoyed the images and video that have been shot by really great service photographers over the years. Imagery is everything and told through the eyes of serving soldiers in all kinds of conditions.”
Professional Category Portfolio: Corporal Tom Evans RLC
Overall Professional Army Image: Corporal Tom Evans RLC
Professional Category Portrait: Corporal Becky Brown RLC
Professional Category Story: Corporal Becky Brown RLC
Professional Category Soldiering: Sergeant Dek Traylor, RLC
Professional Category Sport/Adventure Training: Sergeant Paul Randall, RLC
Best Online Image (voted by the public): Corporal Amrit Thapa, Royal Gurkha Rifles
Op Camera: Sergeant Pete George, RAF
Op Smartphone: Corporal Lee Matthews, RAF
Video: Tim Jones, formerly RLC, now Fire Service
Social Media Video: Sergeant Jonathan van Zyl RLC
Cadet Life: Cadet Jasmine Roper, Scarborough ACF
Amateur Category Portfolio: Corporal Sam Jenkins
Amateur Category Portrait: Colour Sergeant Liam Swan
Amateur Category Sport/Adventure Training: Lance Corporal of Horse Adam Blackmore-Heal
Amateur Category Soldiering: Corporal Sam Jenkins
Professional Category Portfolio: Sergeant Paul Randall RLC
Professional Category Portrait: Mr Mark Owens
Professional Category Story: Sergeant Donald Todd RLC
Professional Category Soldiering: Corporal Becky Brown RLC
Professional Category Sport/Adventure Training: Sergeant Jamie Peters RLC
Op Camera: Senior Aircraftsman (SAC) Amy Lupton, RAF
Amateur Category Portfolio: Adult Under Officer Kate Knight (LNR ACF)
Amateur Category Portrait: Adult Under Officer Kate Knight (LNR ACF)
Amateur Category Sport/Adventure Training: Corporal Jamie Hart
Amateur Category Soldiering: Trooper Tom Franks
Video: Sergeant Russ Nolan RLC
Social Media Video: Sergeant Jonathan van Zyl RLC