As one of the UK’s most celebrated news photographers, it will come as a surprise to many that Getty Images’ Matt Cardy has never had any formal training as a photographer.
He instead began his career as a features writer on the Bath Chronicle in 1998, later joining the Western Daily Press in 2001 before moving to Getty in 2004.
“I always wanted to be a press photographer, from about the age of 15,” Cardy told Press Gazette.
“My official training was as a reporter. I use the skills I learnt as a news reporter every day as a photographer.”
Cardy has enjoyed incredible success since making the switch, winning Photographer of the Year at the Press Awards 2010. And last month he scooped Photojournalist of the Year at Press Gazette’s inaugural British Journalism Awards 2012 (see next page for the winning submissions).
Among the powerful images that helped win Cardy the award was the moment locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson was told he had lost his High Court battle to end his life.
“We were invited by the family to come into the house, and he [Tony Nicklinson] was obviously overwhelmed with emotion,” explained Cardy.
“As you can see he is completely grief stricken. The picture is quite uncomfortable to look at really.
“You can see his pain and anguish. It is a really powerful image – I know the family is campaigning for him even after his death.
“In a way if the strength of my photo helps their campaign that would make me very proud and very pleased.”
Another of Cardy’s photos was an unusually natural snapshot of the Royal Family, leaving St Paul’s Cathedral after the service for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Cardy said: “I thought the picture captured a very candid moment, amid what was quite a formal event.
“They stopped for a brief moment on the stairs and you can see Harry leaning across Kate, sharing a joke with Will, laughing together as any normal family would… It is a very natural picture.”
Cardy’s third submission was a horse and its rider tumbling over at a waterpolo event in Cornwall.
“This was a standard photo call that went slightly differently to how they had arranged it,” he said.
“Ironically, the picture probably would never have been published unless the horse had fallen over, so it worked out as a winning situation for everyone.
“At the time to organisers certainly didn’t see it that way. But we all know why it got it into the papers.”
The highlight of the job for Cardy is “being in the front row of history”, covering occasions like the Jubilee, Royal Wedding and change of office at 10 Downing Street.
“You take so much for granted, it is easy to become really blasé,” he said. “The low point is the cynicism directed towards photographers from members of the public, which he finds “extraordinary and depressing.”
“Everyone wants to see action and we are all consumers of media. I find it frustrating when complete strangers make derogatory comments just because you happen to be there covering a story.
“When we were covering the April Jones story in Wales, I was out there with photographer and a TV guy. We were covering the community when they were out searching.
“Some people were getting very agitated, saying why weren’t helping in the search.
“I felt that illustrating what they were doing was helping in a way. Media does have a role to play – a strong news picture can change laws and provoke things to change for the better.”