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Clare Champion photographer, John Kelly

A grim room with a view

By Carol Byrne

CLARE Champion Photographer John Kelly has scooped his 12th Press Photographer’s Association of Ireland (PPAI) award

He claimed second prize in the Daily Life and People category of the national competition, which had almost 2,000 entries from 112 photojournalists around the country.

 A room with a view. Photograph  by John Kelly
A room with a view. Photograph by John Kelly

John’s winning entry, Room with a View, was described by the judges as “a striking image graphically illustrating life for large families living in the restricted space of a caravan. Great thought and imagination used to create this image”.

The black and white photograph was taken while covering the story of a school principal who was trying to secure emergency accommodation for the Sherlock family. Caroline Sherlock and her seven children were living in a small caravan without electricity or running water, next to a river and beach at Cregg, Lahinch.

Black and white is becoming more prevalent in John’s work of late, as he has chosen to reawaken his passion for the medium he used when he first started out as a photojournalist.

“I find myself increasingly choosing to shoot in black and white because it is a favourite of mine. I started out working in black and white, and I believe them to be not a picture devoid of colour but one that has an extra dimension to it. Some people might think black and white is old fashioned and of a time that has gone by, but I don’t see it that way. I feel it adds an extra dimension to it, and in particular in this photograph I felt it portrayed the hardship and the grittiness of the situation I was there to cover,” he said.

With so many entries and such a high standard of entries, John commented that it was great to see in the current times that “press photography is still alive and well”.

John also had two further photographs selected among the top 100 photographs to travel as part of a nationwide PPAI exhibition.

These included Light of Bygone Days, a photograph in the Daily Life and People section depicting the first baptism in 500 years at the old abbey ruins on Canon Island; and in the Sports Feature category a photo entitled The Clare Shout, featuring an Ennis child, Kayden Moloney, letting out his best Banner Roar at the Clare Senior hurlers open evening in Cusack Park.

John, who is a self-taught photographer, has been a first prize winner on six separate occasions, including last year, when he took first in the news photography category. He has had previous success in the Daily Life and People category taking one first and one second prize in the category previously.

In addition to his success at the PPAI awards, The Clare Champion staff photographer has also won a GAA McNamee Photograph of the Year in 1997 and 2006, The Photographic Society of Ireland Millennium Award in 1999, and in 2006 he was awarded the first ever Western Development Commission John Healy Photography Award.

He has seven national media awards for coverage of Community Games, the latest being “cutest photograph of the year 2011”.


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