143 - Tom Stoddart

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Tom Stoddart is an award-winning British photojournalist whose work has appeared in many of the most pretigious international magazines and newspapers. He is widely regarded by editors and his peers as one of the world’s most experienced and respected photographers. His international frontline assignments have included almost every major conflict and natural disaster over four decades, from wars to earthquakes and from the fall of the Berlin Wall to pandemics. During a long and varied career he has witnessed such international events as the war in Lebanon, the election of President Nelson Mandela, the bloody siege of Sarajevo and the wars against Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Tom’s photographic career began with the Berwick Advertiser, a local newspaper in his native North East of England, before his personal ambition to move up to the big league of the national press in Fleet Street, sent him to London where he quickly impressed picture editors on the foremost newspapers and magazines and won frontline assignments during the troubled 80s, culminating in Desert Storm, the first Gulf War in 1990.

In 1992 Tom was seriously injured in heavy fighting in Bosnia. After a year of recovery, he produced a powerful feature on the aftermath of the Mississippi floods and, later that year, a World Press Photo award-winning photo-essay on the harsh training regime of Chinese Olympic Child Gymnasts.

In 1997 Tony Blair gave Tom exclusive behind the scenes access to his election campaign as Labour swept to victory after 18 years of Conservative government in the UK. More recently he documented Prime Minister David Cameron’s daily life at 10 Downing Street. His acclaimed in-depth work on the HIV/AIDS pandemic blighting sub-Saharan Africa won the POY World Understanding Award in 2003. In the same year his pictures of British Royal Marines in combat, during hostilities in Iraq, was awarded the Larry Burrows Award for Exceptional War Photography. A year later his book iWITNESS was honoured as the best photography book published in the USA.

Tom is the recipient of Lifetime Achievement awards from this peers and his new book, Extraordinary Women: Images of Courage, Endurance and Defiance was be published in October 2020 by ACC Art Books and Iconic Images.

On episode 143, Tom discusses, among other things:

  • Reflections on 50 years in the business
  • His new book, Extraordinary Women
  • Going back through decades of contact sheets
  • The story behind two of his most iconic images - Meliha Varesanovic and Gordana Burazor
  • His route to Fleet Street from the Berwick Advertiser
  • The ambition to tell stories his way and the stripping down of equipment that changed his style
  • Common traits of photojournalists
  • Why photography students are not being well prepared for the industry
  • Why he still believes in the power of the still image

Referenced:

  • Robin Morgan, Iconic Images
  • Dennis Hussey
  • Don McFee
  • John Downing
  • Terry Fincher
  • Chris Smith
  • Sally Soames
  • Ken Lennox
  • Marie Colvin

Website | Instagram | Facebook

“It isn’t about you. You know, this isn’t art. It’s not about look at me, it’s about look at this.”

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