Ex-Advertiser photographer an inspiration

Photojournalist Tom Stoddart, who started his career with the Berwick Advertiser, has been inspiring photographers of the future.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 30 November, 2018, 12:49
Former Berwick Advertiser photographer Tom Stoddart at the Northern School of Art. Credit: Russ Norman, Northern School of Art

He shared stories of a career that has included covering the fall of the Berlin Wall, the election of President Nelson Mandela and the Iraq war in a talk at The Northern School of Art.

Photography students at the Hartlepool school also learned more about Stoddart’s long and varied career in which he witnessed such international events as the war in Lebanon and the bloody siege of Sarajevo.

A high profile and highly respected photojournalist with an international reputation, Stoddart is represented by, and works closely with, Getty Images to produce powerful photo-essays on serious world issues.

“It’s really important to learn the craft and to understand the technical side and discipline of photography,” he said. “The magic of print coming up in the dish is what always captivated me.”

He began his photographic career on his local newspaper, the Advertiser, and moved to London in 1978 to freelance for publications such as the Sunday Times and Time Magazine.

In 1997, Tony Blair gave Stoddart exclusive behind-the-scenes access to his election campaign as Labour swept to victory. 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 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.

In 2012, Perspectives, an outdoor retrospective exhibition in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross, was viewed by 225,000 visitors at London’s South Bank.

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Before his talk Tom Stoddart toured the school’s purpose-built studios which include extensive darkroom facilities.

“I was not expecting to see such amazing facilities,” he commented. “I hope the students realise just how impressive they are. I think they are lucky to have such a fine place to study and learn about photography.”

Lecturer Jill Cole who teaches on the School’s photography degree programmes, which in 2017 achieved the accolade of Course of the Year from leading industry body, the Association of Photographers, said: “Having Tom with us at the School was a great privilege. His work spans decades of key events in the social, political and economic landscape and exposure to someone who works in such a sustained way and with great integrity is invaluable to the students.

“Our students are at the start of their photographic journey and learning how to produce impactful work whilst understanding the importance of being fully immersed in their profession gives them a great head start.”

Dan Leng, a first year student on the BA (Hons) Photographic Practice (with Moving Image) said: “Learning from Tom’s career will inspire my own work and has encouraged me to find stories around where I live. This is particularly useful as I’m just starting a new documentary project based in the North East. It’s given me many things to think about.”

Curtis Farrier, a first year student on the BA (Hons) Commercial Photography added: “I found the talk inspiring. Tom’s work is real and powerful. He’s also shown how understanding the business side of photography is so important.”

Further details of the BA (Hons) Commercial Photography and BA (Hons) Photographic Practice (with Moving Image) courses are available at www.northernart.ac.uk Or visit one of the open days at The Northern School of Art’s Hartlepool campus which take place on Saturday 1 December 2018, Saturday 23 March 2019, Saturday 8 June 2019 and Thursday 4 July 2019.