Northern Ireland

Charles McQuillan's UK Picture Editors' Guild award-winning photos

Northern Ireland photographer Charles McQuillan has won the regional photographer of the year award at the UK Picture Editors' Guild Awards.

From the drama of big waves and sporting agony to the poised calm of the prima ballerina, his winning photographs were taken for the international agency Getty Images and during his time at Pacemaker Press.

Here are the photographs that impressed the judges and the stories behind them.

Ronaldo's despair

Image copyright Charles McQuillan

"This photo of Cristiano Ronaldo was taken just after Northern Ireland scored against Portugal - I just stayed focused on him, as he's always a story. Northern Ireland went ahead 2-1 and at that stage it was looking good, as Portugal were down to 10 men. You've got the fans jumping up and down behind him as he's slumped in the rain.

"In the end they came back to win 4-2 and Ronaldo scored a hat-trick."

Big wave at Dunluce Castle

Image copyright charles McQuillan

"This picture is of Alastair Mennie, who's a big wave surfer that I'm friends with. We've been working on a project for the last 18 months, putting together a documentary.

"It was taken at Dunluce Castle on the north coast of County Antrim - I'd been waiting a long time for that big wave. It's quite a dangerous area because the rocks are close to the shore. The historic Dunluce Castle overlooking the sea really makes the picture."

Giant's Causeway ballerina

Image copyright Charles McQuillan

"This is a photo of Melissa Hamilton, who's a first soloist with the Royal Ballet. She was there shooting a promo at the Giant's Causeway and I just happened to be there, shooting photos with Alastair. I just kind of sneaked it, and it worked out well."

Bonfire view

Image copyright Charles McQuillan

"I took this picture just to do something different. Everybody knows the traditional bonfire pictures from Northern Ireland with the silhouettes.

"It's funny, but the year before we were flying home from Tenerife on the 11th night, just as they were lighting the bonfires in Belfast. I thought, 'there's a great picture, but how would you capture it?'

"I had the idea to take a photo up at Cave Hill, which is one of the highest points overlooking the city. It was a bit of a gamble but it paid off.

"It took the kids there with their smartphones to make the picture - if they hadn't been there, it wouldn't have been the same. I don't really do landscape pictures - I always need to have people in my photos, or otherwise I can't really get attached to it."

Image copyright Charles McQuillan

"This was taken at the Mud Madness race in Portadown, County Armagh. You can't really go far wrong with that one."

Image copyright charles mcquillan
Image caption Charles McQuillan says he feels privileged to have developed a career as a photographer

"I don't have any formal training in photography.

"I started off in the Ballymena Times, and I learned by developing and printing film, and seeing other people's photographs.

"The photographer there gave me a few pointers and that really set me on my way.

"It has been a good career so far - every day is different.

"You get into situations that normally you wouldn't otherwise get access to - it's a privilege in many ways.

"I wouldn't have said I was an outgoing person when I was younger, but you overcome that because in many ways the camera is an extension of yourself.

"It helps you communicate and interact with the world.

"It gives you a reason to put yourself in situations that you would otherwise shy away from.

"I've been lucky enough to win the Northern Ireland Press Photographer of the Year award three times.

"For this award, I submitted a portfolio of five photos, so it's probably best to have a balance between news, sport and features.

"It's always nice to be recognised - it's good to get over to London, and you feel as if you've achieved something when you go out of your own patch."

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