FBU photo competition 2019 winner

FBU photo competition 2019

The FBU photo competition this year was the hardest to judge by a long way. A large entry had many images that were striking, told a story and illustrated one or more aspects of a firefighter’s working life. The requirement for only three winners forced some ruthless decision-making on the judges. But the sheer quality of the entries meant they ended with four top entries.

Many images of training were excellent visually and captured the camaraderie of fire and rescue service workers. But, with one exception, they made way for images from actual incidents.

Others, like Nick Owen’s image of three aerial ladder platforms at a hotel fire, were of professional interest and well composed. But the judges found the winning images, again with one exception, among those in which firefighters themselves were prominent.

In the end, there were four prints left on the table and each one would have been an excellent outright winner.

Fraser Smith’s image of the aftermath of a fire in a mobile home showed a vital and often overlooked side of a firefighter’s work – made all the more striking by the caption telling how the subject, Paul Farman, had been working in an estate agents only hours before. The image was a contender because he is looking out of the picture directly at the viewer, otherwise it might have been just another snapshot.

David Franks’ image of another aftermath – the desolation left by a huge moorland fire in the Pennines which he and colleagues had travelled from Kent to fight – probably came closest of the three runners-up to winning, helped by his eloquent caption.

But purely photographic criteria – the composition, the sense of being present at the event, and the closeness to the subject – helped nudge Phil Musgrove’s image of a firefighter shutting down a hydrant after a field fire into first place.

Finally, the exception – a training picture with no FBU member prominent. In many non-specialist photo competitions Rod Dorrington’s image of Sherlock, London Fire Brigade’s investigation dog, would have walked away with the top prize. Technically superb, it captures perfectly a split-second moment in time – you can see one of Sherlock’s specially protected paws is about to leave the ground. The short field of focus highlights the ball and Sherlock’s intense concentration. A brilliant capture of a cute subject in an intense situation.

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