Following my hijacking of Phil Coomes’ BBC “News in Pictures” blog last week, I thought I’d put my slightly revised selection from 2011 on here to continue the series that I began last year.

I’m obviously tempting fate as I have one shift left for 2011 on the 31st, so calling these my favourites of the year runs with the proviso that the Second Coming doesn’t happen on Saturday, with Jesus choosing to return for an impromptu monster truck session on Oxford Street while I’m on duty.

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First up is a scene from the Southbank of the Thames, during the build-up to the royal wedding. With tourists filling the city and everything either draped in union flags or police tape, most photographers in London were regularly being sent out to find feature pictures on the upcoming marriage. Aside from the poses looking like it could have been staged, the punchline to it all was that “The Queen” was in fact an Eastern European bloke. I hope Phil the Greek knows. The full blog can be found here.

The London riots saw some incredible images on the news wire from all agencies, newspapers and freelance sources. While I captured a good share of the flames and violence, one of my personal favourite pictures came on the first night as I was leaving Tottenham to edit my photographs. Just as I was about to go, I glanced over my shoulder and saw a woman carrying two young children through the rubble and broken glass. The blue lights from the police vans lit her face as she walked towards the line of armoured vehicles and riot police. A few hundred metres behind her, the police were still clashing with rioters and missiles were being thrown in all directions. Being in that situation was scary enough, but as a father I can only imagine how scared this woman must have been for the safety of the children. More images from the story can be found here.

The MCM Comic Con convention in east London turned out to be one of my favourite jobs of the year to shoot thanks to the ridiculous amount of pictures that were there to be taken, as nearly everyone attending was dressed in some type of costume. One of my favourites was Lindsay Vincent from Cumbria who dressed as US singer Lady Gaga and was happy to take time out to pose for me in front of the passing crowds. The set of images I came away with have ended up being my favourite picture story of the year, thanks to the devotion of the fans of Cosplay and all that it involves. Bravo, eccentric types! More frames can be found here.

The show below is an idea that’s been done before but I loved how well matched the girls were. While covering the “Vintage at the Southbank Centre” event, I’d spotted two girls playing around with the record covers as they searched through the stacks of vinyl on a stall. As I approached them, they’d just found these two covers and were starting to play around with them. I’d love to say I’d made the effort of finding out the exact covers and posing them just so but they made the frame for me. While not being the hardest frame to capture, it still puts a smile on my face. More images can be found here.

Covering the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships at Sheffield Arena in March, the photographers were given the chance to shoot from directly above, allowing us to catch the action from a new perspective. At the time, I didn’t really appreciate how rare an opportunity it was until I’ve seen the “best of 2011” images from a number of leading sports photographers have included shots from the gantry from over that weekend.

I was sitting in the office of Agence France-Presse, the news agency that I work for, on a particularly quiet day when I noticed the end of a rainbow over the financial district of London. I grabbed my camera and began taking pictures of the rainbow that could be used to illustrate a future business feature or story, when I noticed that it was starting to get longer. Within a few seconds it had become a full arc, and shortly after a second rainbow appeared over the top. By this time I’d called everyone over from their desks and they stood and watched the incredible light show as I frantically snapped away from under my coat (to cut out reflections from the glass of the office window). Then, as fast as it had appeared, it was gone.

Another shot from the first night of the London riots and it’s pretty self-explanatory but I liked how it captured the energy and frantic movement as the night developed. With an appliance store on fire, the riot police moved forward pushing the rioters further down the street. It’s always a challenge in this kind of situation to find the right place to be, as you’re facing incoming missiles when too close to the police but are at risk of being attacked if you’re in with the rioters. More images can be found here.

Never having shot Wimbledon before, other than a few of the features surrounding the event, I got to cover the actual play this year with this shot being my favourite. After a long and frustratingly close rally, French player Benoit Paire threw his racquet while diving as he played against Spanish player David Ferrer. A truly desperate move but it gave me a shot for the yearly round-up! More images can be found here.

Another moment from the Comic-Con 2011 convention makes my list and this one was the opposite of the shot above, being a moment I spotted as I wandered around the main concourse during lunch. While all of the attendees were connected by their love of cosplay, they still divided into some groups, so I had a poke around to see how they were mixing. The guy in the centre was clearly quite proud of his costume and seemed to be a bit of an alpha-male of the group. I’m proud of catching his flirtatious look towards the passing girl while the guy on the right eyes me suspiciously. I also loved the Comic-Con show for this moment. More images can be found here.

It’s hard to fail on a story like this but when sent to cover the 25th annual International Kite Festival in Bristol, my favourite photo was of the interaction between a giant flying lobster and a spectator. Even if it wasn’t a favourite picture, I’d probably include it anyway, just so that I could write that sentence.

While covering the on-going fighting around the town of Bani Walid in Libya, AFP journalist Dominique Soguel and I started chatting to a group of National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters as they sheltered from the midday sun on a dried riverbed running under the road. After shooting a few portraits of them, a senior figure in the NTC army arrived with a reinforced briefcase filled with wrapped bundles of tens of thousands of Dinar and started to pay the troops. With the fighting dragging on longer than hoped, the fighters were struggling to survive with families at home in need of income, so supporters had raised money by selling their possessions and sending the funds to the front line. My posts from Libya can be found here.

The day of the royal wedding was truly one of the most stressful days of my life, but in the end it was saved by bridesmaid Grace Van Cutsem. The young girl became world famous after she covered her ears to protect herself from the noise of a fly-past, just at the point of the royal kiss, creating one of the moments of the day. I was very grateful that we were shooting from so far away, as if I’d been closer I may have tried to crop in really tight on the kiss and would have missed Grace’s moment. The whole story can be found here.

During the visit to Britain by US President Barack Obama, I was covering a number of the meetings inside number 10 Downing Street. It included this one between the president, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Prime Minister David Cameron. I have absolutely no idea what was said, but I love the body language between the three subjects. While the prime minister had moved out of the way to allow us to photograph Mr Clegg and President Obama, the combination of the apparent giggling fit on the left, and the rather stern look from Mr Cameron, makes for an amusing caption competition shot. More images from the visit can be found here.

So there we go. Unless you hear about a series of crushed cars near Oxford Circus over the weekend, bring on 2012.


6 Responses to “2011 – my baker’s dozen”

  1. I wish I could tell you which one of these I liked best, but I can’t. This is definitely a best-of list. It might be the Queen costume, the girls with the album covers, the London riot walkers or the last one with Obama. All fantastic.

    Posted by Brian Scott
  2. Very cool xx

    Posted by Tanja
  3. The best set of 2011 pictures I’ve seen!
    Well done Leon 😉

    Posted by Geoff Pugh
  4. @Brian – Thanks Brian. That’s very kind of you to say. Much appreciated.

    @Tanja – Hey petal! Cheers for the comment. Hope all’s well! x

    @Geoff – Second best, surely? :) Cheers bud!

    Posted by tabascokid
  5. I absolutely love the Obama Clegg photo. They say a picture says a thousands words but this picture says far more than that.

    Posted by Craig Shepheard
  6. Inspired as always. Can’t wait to see what you churn out during 2012, should be a great year for images with the Olympics, Jubilee, etc.

    Posted by Neil

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