Obituaries - Alisdair Macdonald

Before Gordon Brown emerged with the red budget box in Downing Street last Wednesday, the whole press corps stood to attention for a minute’s silence.

They honoured renowned press photographer Alisdair Macdonald who died of a suspected heart attack on Tuesday night while on assignment for the Evening Standard.

The following day, he would have been with them, picturing the Chancellor on Budget Day as he had for the last 20 years. He was 67.

Mac answered a call-out from the Standard picture desk to cover the damage caused by the storm that raged over London on Tuesday night.

As always, he got up and went out to do it. He just loved taking pictures.

Those words will be echoed by all who knew, loved and respected Mac.

That was the code he lived by.

He had been a freelance since 2004.

His incomparable knowledge of London and government meant he was always in the right place when it mattered.

His family was from the Hebrides, but Mac came to London as a commercial photographer, later joining the press.

Mac’s pictures appeared often in the Daily Mail and other titles, but his heart was always with his beloved Daily Mirror. He spent 26 years with them as a staffer, but took a seven-year break in the middle to join the Today newspaper before he rejoined the Mirror for their move to Canary Wharf.

Mac was a superb technician, with boundless ideas: magnificent night shots of a jumbo jet crossing the face of the moon, wreathed in vapour trails; wide-angled pictures from the very pinnacle of the Millennium Dome; montages of Heathrow air traffic with planes blotting the sky.

Mac was an originator and a stylist.

His ideas were often copied. He loved the science of photography. Nobody did eclipses of the sun and moon better than Mac.

He was also a reporter’s dream snapper. Don Mackay of the Mirror said: “Working with Mac was like having another reporter with you. He saw and detailed everything.

A real pro.”

Daily Mirror photographer Mike Moore said: “As a guy working alongside him on the street, he was always someone the young photographers would look up to.

He always had time to help a young guy like me.

“When Ron took him from the Mirror to start Today, it was the first colour paper. A lot of the photographers at the time didn’t have the skills, but his great attribute was his technical skill and he did a great job there. When he went back to the Mirror it was like him going home.

“His great enthusiasm always shone through, and he was one of those rare people who got more enthusiastic as he got older.

“When he reached retirement age, he still chose to stay in London because he wanted to work. It is a measure of the man that he was out responding to a call from the picture desk when he died.

He could have said no, but his enthusiasm for the job was paramount.”

Ron Morgans was picture editor on the Daily Mirror for seven years.

Comments

1 thought on “Obituaries - Alisdair Macdonald”

  1. Just read H Is for Hawk written by Mr. MACDONALD’S daughter, who, going through the grief caused by his unexpected death, tells her story of handling that grief by training a goshawk. This tribute to him shows him as a generous, creative man, an artist with a camera. I can better understand his family’S grief at losing him who took such delight in lIvins to the fullest.

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