A ‘Winter Dip’ was the image which put Banbridge photographer Paul McCambridge on the winner’s podium at the BT Northern Ireland Press Photographers Association annual awards.
The photo, which won the Sports Feature Picture of the Year title, shows English-Channel swimmer Maureen McCoy as she prepares for training at Murlough Bay, Dundrum, against a typically Irish backdrop of grey cloud and Mourne Mountains.
The gala awards event held at the Hilton Hotel, Belfast on May 22, rewards outstanding work of Northern Ireland’s press photographers.
“I am happy to pick up this award,” said Paul “it’s been great to get this recognition.”
Maureen, an award winning long distance open water swimmer, fulfilled a childhood ambition to swim the English Channel in 2009 just after her fortieth birthday. She trains regularly throughout the year ‘come hail, rain, sleet or snow’.
For this particular shoot though, Paul has experienced life from both sides of the lens having discovered open water swimming himself in 2007.
He represented Ulster in his youth, but then had a break from swimming for many years.
Some of his recent notable swims include the North Channel Relay in 2011 with Team Camlough, and the Copeland Island Swim 2010.
Paul has been a photographer for 25 years now covering events around Northern Ireland for national and international newspapers and magazines.
His other main focus is working on long-term photographic projects for exhibitions, book publications and education purposes.
Next week some of Paul’s work will be on show at the Irish Aid Centre in O’Connell Street, Dublin, featuring pictures he took in the slums of Calcutta, India.
The exhibition is on human trafficking.
“This is a worthwhile kind of work,” said Paul as he spoke of the important message these kind of pictures put across.
With images used in several books, another publisher has also approached him wanting to put together a book for swimmers.
“This publisher is wanting to show how people enjoy the water and include a database of places to swim and safety advice.”
Paul has lifted numerous Photographic Press Awards including Features Photographer of the Year in 1997, 1999 and 2003.
Most recently Paul has set up MAC Visual Media with the help of his sons, focusing on PR and video work.