As we release our Year in Focus e-book highlighting the best photography from 2014, we ask our experts across the business for their personal selection from the year.

Bette Lynch, Director for News Photography in EMEA discusses some of the big news stories in the region during 2014 and highlights the powerful work of our photographers:

For some reason this year, more than ever, seems to have been dominated by war, conflict and politics. From the ongoing situation in the Ukraine to the Scottish referendum, there have been some major global stories that the UK photographers have had to get involved with. Here are some of the stories and images that have gone into making 2014 a busy but fulfilling year:


 

D-Day Anniversary by Matt Cardy

This year saw the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Those remarkable days in June 1944 brought about the end of World War II and to mark this historic event, the Normandy beaches saw several days of commemoration. Not just with the veterans travelling from overseas to pay their respects to their fallen comrades but also heads of state including President Obama and The Queen attending numerous services.

Several months before the anniversary, Matt Cardy travelled around the UK to photograph surviving veterans who participated in those landings all those years ago. A brilliant set of portraits emerged, but my favourite was this one of 92-year-old Vera Hay. A member of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corp, she was one of the first nurses to land in Normandy shortly after D-Day. She cared for up to 200 injured soldiers every day as a Junior Sister. Whilst all the soldiers deserve our thanks and recognition, I was delighted that Matt found a female veteran. Women played an invaluable role in the war effort and even more delighted that Vera agreed to be part of our portrait set.


Repatriation by Peter Macdiarmid

Sadly, the UK is used to witnessing the repatriation of bodies from overseas conflict. Fallen soldiers have returned from conflict to Royal Wootton Bassett and Brize Norton for many years. This, however, was something different. Whilst flying over eastern Ukraine, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 to Kuala Lumpur was allegedly blown out of the sky by a surface to air missile carrying 298 passengers and crew. All perished. The image that you see here is just one of the repatriations that took place over a number of days in the Netherlands. Just ONE of the repatriations. As far as the eye can see, a cortege of 70 hearses travelling along a motorway. In my 27-year career, I have only ever been deeply affected by a story a handful of times. This is one of those times. The images taken by Brendan Hoffman at the scene of the crash showed a land littered with the accoutrement of holidaymakers – guide books, passports, teddy bears, boarding cards. Families going on holiday. We’ve all shared that excitement and therefore the premature and horrific ending of that flight jarred even more. This image illustrates the magnitude of what happened that day. It’s not graphic; there is no scorched earth and broken parts of planes. Just 70 hearses bringing home some of those holidaymakers. The perpetrators have never been caught.


Oscar Pistorius by Chris Furlong

The death of Reeva Steenkamp at the hands of her famous athlete boyfriend was not in question. We know that Oscar Pistorius shot her that night because he admitted it. The trial was to decide if indeed, Oscar believed there was an intruder and he shot in self-defence. There are certain trials in recent history, often televised, that have caught the global public’s imagination, and this was one such case. We had previously witnessed OJ Simpson, Phil Spector and Michael Jackson with the public glued to their television screens pouring over every word. Now it was Oscar’s turn. Chris Furlong went out to Pretoria several times. The media scrum around the trial was fairly typical of South Africa, friendly but completely disorganised. As a consequence, Mr Pistorius had to literally shuffle through the world’s media every day to get in and out of the courthouse giving the photographers ample opportunity to photograph him, albeit with a bit of push and shove as demonstrated in this image. After a lengthy trial and psychiatric evaluation Oscar was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison. The prosecution are seeking permission to appeal what they believe to be a “shockingly light” sentence. The lengthy trial goes on.


Scottish Referendum by Matt Cardy

At the beginning of the year, the result of September’s referendum on Scottish independence was a given. Nobody thought that the SNP had the slightest chance and polling figures put considerable numbers behind the “No” campaign. Then, slowly but surely, those figures started to change. The Scots started to believe in themselves that they could govern their own country away from Westminster, that the “Yes” campaign could just go and win this vote. The referendum campaign came alive, giving 16 and 17-year-olds the vote was ingenious, for the first time in decades we were witnessing a level of engagement sadly lacking in our general elections. Forget the Scots, the entire country could talk of little else. Would the union hold or would this see the end of our historic alliance? It was a nail biter. In the end, after a very nervous final week for Parliament (which saw the pleading and begging by senior Westminster politicians to the Scots, including that of the Prime Minister, to stay together) the “No” campaign won out and the Scottish people voted to stay in the United Kingdom.

This picture is the moment Alex Salmond addressed his supporters in the small hours after the result was known. He had failed in his quest but succeeded in giving Westminster a bloody nose and the Scottish people the chance to decide their own destiny.

The referendum was a beacon to all across the globe showing the full democratic process in all its glory, and it was fabulous to watch.


World War I Centenary by Peter Macdiarmid

2014 saw the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. A war that saw Europe decimated, and millions of people lose their lives. The last of the World War I veterans had died a few years ago and so the question was, how do we illustrate an event that no longer has any survivors? Peter Macdiarmid and I mulled over this question for some time before he happened upon the idea of using our archive to bring old and new together. He scoured thousands of images with identifiable locations where he could re-shoot the exact frame, lay the archive image over the new shot and bring a fresh perspective on images that are a hundred years old. A set like this doesn’t happen overnight. Peter spent a considerable amount of time researching the project and bringing a level of detail to the match-ups that shows in the quality of his work. The global press loved it, the almost ghost-like figures revisiting our world one hundred years later. When The Guardian published the set online, they had over 500,000 clicks on the feature. There is very little that can be said about World War I that hasn’t been said before. We have all seen the endless rows upon rows of graves in Flanders and Northern France of young men from across Europe. Peter’s images brought a fresh poignancy as the ghosts of that war collided into our world.


 

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