Phil Coomes, Picture editor

Phil Coomes Picture editor

Exploring the world of photojournalism, photos in the news and BBC News' use of photographs, including those by our readers

Taking the plunge

A swimmer at Tooting Bec Lido

On a bright yet cold winter's day I can think of many things to do, and throwing myself into cold water is not one of them. Yet, around the globe there seems to be no end of volunteers to attempt this, and at the weekend about 650 swimmers of all ages and abilities took part in the sixth UK Cold Water Swimming Championships, at Tooting Bec Lido, in south London.

The challenge to competitors was to swim nearly 30m across the width of the Lido in water at about 3C. Photographer Nina Sologubenko went along to record the event and was drawn to the moment just before the swimmers took to the water.

"I watched the races dressed, like most of the spectators, in a thick padded coat, hat and scarf and wondered how I could capture what's going through the mind of someone who is about to jump into freezing cold water," Sologubenko said.

A swimmer at Tooting Bec Lido

"I was lucky to be on the starting line when the competitors arrived for their heats.

"I found the swimmers' body language fascinating as they braced themselves.

Read full article Taking the plunge

Picture power: Tear gas at Kenyan primary school

School children from the Lang'ata road primary school scramble up a bridge

Earlier this week, scenes of schoolchildren running away from tear gas fired by police in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, sparked condemnation and even a hashtag, #OccupyPlayGround.

Pupils at Lang'ata school were protesting at the loss of their playground. They had returned after a two-week teachers' strike to find it fenced off by a private developer. Agence France Press photographer Tony Karumba was on hand to record the demonstration and here he recalls the event.

Read full article Picture power: Tear gas at Kenyan primary school

Instagram: The 'homeless' chief executive

Wheels of an aeroplane

Cillin Perera travels a lot. As the chief executive of a couple of companies, he is constantly moving from one place to another and, like many others, has turned to photography to record his journeys and keep in touch with family and friends.

He began taking pictures on his phone and rediscovered his love of photography, something he had not done since his days at Harvard in the late 1990s.

Read full article Instagram: The 'homeless' chief executive

Picture power: A sea of flashes

Helen Mirren arrives at the Weinstein Netflix after party

When film stars hit the red carpet you can be sure their every step will be captured on camera and the recent Golden Globe Awards in Hollywood were no exception. Reuters photographer Patrick Fallon was on hand to capture this picture of British actress Helen Mirren and here he talks about the story behind it.

I like this picture not only because it captures the essence of the scene on the carpet, the sea of flashes, but also because it was a little long-shot victory for me. Helen Mirren didn't walk the entire red carpet and only stopped at about the first photo position. I still had to take a picture though and this worked out nicely as I am always looking to create something different from the pack.

Read full article Picture power: A sea of flashes

Picture Power: Race for the cross

Bulgarians dive into the icy waters in Sofia as part of Epiphany Day celebrations

At the start of each year, the picture wires are always full of various events around the world marking the calendar change. One event held in Bulgaria each year to mark Epiphany was captured by Agence France Presse photographer Dimitar Dilkoff. Here, he offers his thoughts on the image.

"I've been shooting Epiphany celebrations in Bulgaria since 1993 with very few exceptions and I almost always shoot the plunge at this lake in Sofia.

Read full article Picture Power: Race for the cross

MA students document global issues

To begin the year, here is the work of 10 postgraduate students who have just completed the MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography course at the London College of Communication.

Each picture is just one of a series by each photographer. I would encourage you to click the website link at the bottom of the page for a deeper look.

Read full article MA students document global issues

Ten photos capture the UK in 2014

As we reach the end of 2014, Milica Lamb, picture editor at the Press Association (PA), selects some of the best shots captured by the news agency's photographers across the UK.

"PA produced close to a quarter of a million images in 2014, so, as always, being tasked with selecting an editor's choice for the year has proved incredibly hard - there are just too many amazing images I have had to leave out," says Lamb.

Read full article Ten photos capture the UK in 2014

Five moments that captured 2014

As we approach the end of 2014, BBC Radio 4's The World at One is looking back at the biggest events of the year through the eyes of photographers.

Martha Kearney's interviews with photographers can be heard on the programme from 24 December, and here you can listen to short, sometimes emotional, previews which capture the motivation behind some of the most powerful pictures taken in the past year.

Grey line

Read full article Five moments that captured 2014

Picture power: The masked man

A masked pro-Russian protester sits on a chair as he poses for a picture inside a regional government building in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine

More than a year has passed since the crisis began in Ukraine, with a student protest in Maidan, in the centre of Kiev. Russian intervention followed and the country seemed to split, and in May pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk declared independence after unrecognised referendums.

Earlier, in April, Reuters photographer Marko Djurica took this image of a pro-Russian protester seated inside a government building demonstrators had occupied in Donetsk. Here, he explains the story behind the image.

Read full article Picture power: The masked man

Picture power: Abandoned on the border

A cradle left behind by Syrian Kurdish refugees lies at the Turkish-Syrian border near Suruc

The uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began three years ago. Since then more than 3.2 million people are thought to have fled the country, with another 7.6 million internally displaced. The figures are staggering, as are the pictures of the front-line fighting and the lines of refugees making their way across the border.

Yet, this picture by Murad Sezer, of Reuters, seems to me to sum up the loss of home those forced to flee must suffer. Here, he talks of the moment he took the picture of a cradle left behind at the Turkish-Syrian border near Suruc in September.

Read full article Picture power: Abandoned on the border

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About Phil

Phil has worked in the photographic arena for many years, as both a photographer and picture editor, primarily at the BBC where he has covered news stories, features and audio slideshows, both in the UK and abroad.

He obtained a BA (Hons) in photography from the University of Westminster where he studied under Andy Golding, Tom Ang and Gus Wylie, the latter of whom instilled in him his love of the colour photographic document and street photography.

Despite the obvious advantages of digital photography in news, Phil can often be found running film through his old cameras and spent 64 weeks shooting a project to mark the end of Kodachrome in 2010.

Phil is a member of the British Press Photographers Association.

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