Tributes paid to acclaimed Northumberland photographer Tom Stoddart following his death, aged 68

Tributes have been paid to acclaimed Northumberland photographer Tom Stoddart who has died aged 68.

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 11:14 am
Photographer Tom Stoddart stands at his Perspectives photographic exhibition in London in 2012. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

Tom, from Ponteland, was born in Morpeth and started his professional career with The Berwick Advertiser in 1970.

He moved to London in 1978 to freelance for publications such as the Sunday Times and Time Magazine.

His career subsequently took him all over the world including covering the fall of the Berlin Wall, the election of President Nelson Mandela, the war in Lebanon, the bloody siege of Sarajevo in which he was seriously injured and the Iraq war.

Tom Stoddart pictured in Antwerp, Belgum, in 2007. Photo by Mark Renders /Getty Images.

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.

The announcement of his death was made by his official Twitter account: “It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Tom after a brave fight against cancer. He felt blessed that he had found true happiness with Ailsa. The family kindly ask that their privacy be respected at this time.

“Tom touched the lives of so many as a brilliant, compassionate, courageous photographer whose legacy of work will continue to open the eyes for generations. He gave voice to those who did not have one and shone a light where there had been darkness.”

Among those paying tribute were BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen, who wrote on Twitter: “That is tragic news. Tom was superbly talented and also a very decent and agreeable man. Condolences to his family.”

Photographer Tom Stoddart photographs Corporal Andy Reid of the 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment for The Variety Club's Hidden Gems Project at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel on August 16, 2011 in London, England. Corporal Andy Reid lost both legs and an arm after stepping on a home made bomb in Afghanistan. Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images.

Nick Donaldson wrote: “A true great and son of Northumberland. If you don't know his work educate yourself and seek it out.”

Simon Roberts added: “He really did touch many of our lives. I am so grateful for having known Tom over the years and benefited from his generosity, kindness, knowledge and advice. What a truly wonderful man he was. Sending love to his family and close friends at this difficult time.”

Michael Cockerham added: “He was unquestionably one of the most self-effacing, generous-hearted, funny and engaging people I ever had the privilege to meet, and a giant of a photographer with an impeccable journalist’s compass. We are all poorer for his passing.”

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 a 2018 interview with The Berwick Advertiser he said: “It’s really important to learn the craft and to understand the technical side and discipline of photography. The magic of print coming up in the dish is what always captivated me.”

And in 2019 he told the Evening Standard: “I have seen many awful things, but I have also seen a lot of fantastic and beautiful things.

“Humans do terrible things to each other, but there is also courage and humanity. That helps me keep it all in perspective…

“I’ve been very lucky in my career, with a ringside seat to history.”

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