Neeeeyowwwwmmmmmm!!!  Blimey, what the hell was that?  It looked a bit like 366 days, but it was travelling at far too high a speed to have been a year.  Ah well.  Bloody joyriders…

It’s that time of year again where professional and amateur photographers alike trawl through their archive of work from the year, and wonder why they thought they had better shots than that.  Hurray!

– –  : : – –

Starting right back in January, my favourite comes from the European Figure Skating Championships in God’s own city.  The shot can be viewed in a number of ways; firstly, it’s a decidedly striking moment during a highly choreographed routine of precision skating, that takes advantage of the female partners costume to provide a mysterious veil for the male skater or secondly, an elaborate up-skirt picture.  Starting the year with some class, eh?  The full post can be found here.

Skill or crudity?  You decide...

Moving swiftly on, February brings the over-styled masses to the streets of the Capital with London Fashion Week.  While some designers created truly unique and eye-catching clothing and jewellery designs that made life very easy as a photographer, my favourite shot came from the very start of the Daks presentation.  The technicians removed the protective covering from the runway, the lights dimmed and a single model appeared.  Sweeping towards the gathered photographers, spotlights came to life as she passed them, creating a wonderful mirage effect in the polished catwalk.  Stylish, simple and timeless.  The full post can be found here.

Daks the way to light a catwalk

March brought the kind of feature that I really love to work on; a full day with a group of professional graffiti artists as they worked on bringing a massive explosion of art to a rather grim estate in north London.  The assignment was heaven to do due to the abundance of colour, themes, angles and new people for me to work around.  However, my favourite photo from the shoot came towards the end of the day when I noticed that the artists were reflected in the curved wheel arch of one of the cars parked nearby.  With a doff of the cap to Salvador Dali, I found that the distortion really stretched, elongated and generally screwed up reality.  Yay!  The full post can be found here.

Dali does graffiti

The end of March provided first contact with that rarest of creatures, a Monarch of 60 years (AKA Brendius Maximus).  Over the coming months, I’d be getting to spend a lot more time planning to see, waiting to see and actually seeing her but this early sighting just tickles me.  The grins from both the Queen and Prince Philip, while genuine, have the distinct feel of the Aphex Twin to me.  Okay, that might just be me then…

Aphex Twin out-take

Leaping ahead to June and what was not only one of the strangest jobs of the year, but possibly of my life; the Thames Diamond Jubilee River Pageant.  The full details of my day can be found here but the following two pictures were my favourites for different reasons.  Firstly, the portrait of Princess Beatrice is included due to it being such a fly-on-the-wall moment with a member of the Royal Family.  Having shot a decent number of Royal assignments over the years, I know that they usually entail standing in a fixed location, pointing my camera, keeping my mouth shut and being pleased if I was even noticed.  This day saw the boundaries shifted as I worked in very close confinement with a variety of Royal and political types.  The picture below was just caught as I popped below deck briefly to change lens, and found Beatrice stood next to my camera bag, watching the boats passing the royal barge.

Princess Beatrice, looking all wistful and that.

Away from the up close and personal portrait above, the following picture allowed me to try to capture how it was to be on the Thames that day.  While Princess Eugenie, Sophie Wessex and other members of the Royal family wave to people on the bank, Prince Andrew looks towards the giant portrait of the Royal family that was hung from a building and Prince Edward just wonders what the hell I’m doing, as I crouch on the deck and fire what looks like a distress flare but is in fact a Lomography Spinner 360.  An exceptionally bizarre day.

Head-spinning Royalism

The Diamond Jubilee weekend also included the concert (covered more thoroughly here) which saw tens of thousands of people descend on the Mall to try to catch a glimpse of pop, or actual, royalty.  After a frantic afternoon and evening of shooting and throwing CF cards to picture editor Dan to carve up, the moment of the night came when Prince Charles appeared on-stage and introduced his mother.  As she came out, no-one really knew what would happen as her husband Prince Philip was in hospital at the time, so it was unsure how relaxed things would be.  After a brief speech, Charles took her hand and gave it a kiss.  While this might seem nothing, a search through most archives will show that Brenda’s not a big fan on the PDA, so that was one moment that could not be missed.  Thank you, increased D4 buffer size…

Bless her, she's a Diamon.

Now that the Diamond Jubilee was tucked up safely in history, it was time for the sport to begin.  The Olympics loomed large but first up was the matter of Wimbledon.  With so many photographers covering the big matches, it sometimes seems as though there’s nothing that you can do that feels different.  The agencies covering the fortnight have teams of photographers and editors covering every game from every angle.  One of the few things that can change things is the light.  With the sun going down and the backgrounds dropping down to lovely photogenic “blackgrounds”, I noticed that the briefest of puffs of dust was visible every time Tsonga served with a fresh ball.  Knowing it wasn’t an everyday shot, I settled in to spend a bit of time trying to catch it but thankfully managed to get it on my second chance.  The full post can be found here.


Now, I’m SURE there was some other historic event that happened in 2012.  I’ve done the Jubilee and the Spice Girls musical came much later.  What the hell was it?  Ah yes…

The Olympics were massive.  Huge.  Astounding.  Every aspect of it was unlike anything that I’d experienced before.  Having shot a Winter Games before, I thought I knew what it would be like but noooooo…  One of the jobs that I managed to get for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, as well as the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games was that of in-field photographer.  This job involves trying to learn the choreography of a three hour production, plan the logistics of where to stand and when, as well as gaffer taping up the 5cm logo on your black trainers for fear that the Olympics machine will come crashing down if my non-approved brand sneakers were seen by anyone.

My first of two shots from the Opening Ceremony comes from the moment that the rings were lit above the stadium.  Frankly, it speaks for itself, but it was just such an opportunity to be able to pick where I wanted to see and shoot this massive moment from.

Sturdy umbrella required at the Olympic Opening Ceremony

My second image comes from a performance art piece that came during one of the quieter moments of the evening.  Having had the luxury of seeing the show twice before the opening night, I knew that the section opened with this burst of powder.  This knowledge allowed me to get into a better position to catch it the second that it happened.  Coming two thirds of the way through the show, it was more of a challenge to mental ability and memory recall than photographic ability by that point!  The full post from the Opening Ceremony can be found here.

Spontaneous applause at the cocaine-users annual conference

As I spent what seemed like the majority of 2012 in the Aquatics centre, shooting the swimming and diving events, you may think that I’d be including some Phelps or Daley in this selection, but my favourite picture was of Malick Fall.  The ice-like quality of the water just really jumps out against Fall’s skin and combined with the reflection in the goggles, it makes my list.


Next up is Andy Murray’s ball dropping.  Sorry.  As the fact hit him that he’d taken the Gold medal from Roger Federer, Andy Murray closed his eyes and just let go of his ball and racquet before making his way to the family enclosure.  After years of nearly reaching the top spot at Wimbledon, I was really pleased to not only have witnessed it but to have caught an image that includes all of the ingredients to the story.

Andy Murray takes the Gold

My final piece of Olympic action came from the heart of so many of Team GB’s Gold victories, the cycling velodrome.  Trying to capture the speed of the cyclists is one of the main challenges of this discipline.  There were many times during my coverage that I found myself stunned as the riders produced power from what seemed like nowhere and tore past their competition.  Cycling at this level really has to be seen to be believed.  I ended up getting this shot with a combination of a fish-eye lens, a slow shutter speed and a flick of the wrist.  Having edited the rest of my Olympic sport images in black & white (found here), this picture was one of the few that really had me doubting a mono post to the last moment, as it’s so striking in colour.  Thankfully, my year-end review gives me the chance to show it off again, but this time in glorious technicolour.

Sweeping measures at the velodrome

The next two images come from the moments after the cameras had stopped rolling at the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.  I know for a fact that I went just a little bit insane during this shoot and ended up flooding my remote editors with enough pictures to fill a hard drive but I like to think that most of it was justified.  (Sorry guys!)  The first shot shows some of the dancers who performed with Darcy Bussell as they relaxed and let their feathers down.  The sense of elation on the in-field that night was unbelievable as everyone realised that not only was it all over but it had gone so incredibly well.  As ticker tape and confetti fell from the sky, people hugged, cheered, danced, cartwheeled and generally freaked out.  A brilliant moment.

Nine calling birds... FIVE GOLD RINGS!

Taken even later in the evening after the audience had left their seats, I spotted a crowd of people in the corner of the in-field and scurried over to find a rather glassy-eyed Russell Brand enjoying the attention of a herd of of Games Makers and performers.  A bit of eye-line from him and I managed to catch a strangely intimate moment in the middle of a cavernous Olympic-sized stadium.

It's a hard life for Russell Brand

With hardly a chance to draw breath, the Paralympics was upon us and it was back into SportLand.  While I got to see a reasonable mixture of events around the Olympic park, it also gave me my first chance to shoot the action inside the Olympic stadium itself.  Of these moments, my favourite was of Team GB’s David Weir crossing the line to take the Gold medal in the Men’s 1500m T4 event.  Shooting from the pit at the end of the 100m straight gave me a really strong angle to shoot from, particularly for the wheelchair events, and  I think this moment really captures that spirit of Team GB at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.  Further images and full details can be found here.

David Weir takes the Gold

Having spotted a reference to this intriguing concept on a friend’s twitter feed, I headed north to photograph the “2.8 Hours Later” game as it hit Manchester city centre. Like the Graffiti project earlier in the year, any job that allows me time, space and inspiration gets three thumbs up from me and this was a blinder.  While I could have picked any shot from the night and rambled on about it, this one sums up the event best for me.  Taken outside a branch of Tesco in the middle of the city, that look of fun-filled terror on the participant’s face is how most people look for the whole evening.  It’s a high-speed rush that leaves you feeling giddy and elated to be alive!  Further blood-soaked pictures and details can be found here.

Less Madchester, more insanechester...

The Rain Room was another assignment that could have produced good pictures if any photographer had closed their eyes and pointed the camera towards the splashing sounds.  However, catching something a bit different was the challenge for me and I think I got it with this one.  With the whole point of the installation being that a person can walk through an apparent rain storm without getting wet, I wanted to indicate this to the viewer so grabbed a copy of a newspaper from the gallery staffroom and posed up a technician in the middle of the shower.  Full details and more pictures can be found here.

Right, page 27... today's weather...

So there’s my 2012.  It only leaves me to offer a few acknowledgements.  Firstly, I must thank the wonderful people at Agence France-Presse for allowing me to experience such a great range of jobs and assignments in the year.  Secondly, thanks to you for reading this blog, and keeping me smiling with your feedback and comments.  Taking the time to share the posts and leave a message is truly appreciated.  You guys rock.

Happy New Year!

33 Responses to “The 2012 photo review”

  1. Ah, so THAT’S where you were for most of the year :p Great pictures, as always, my love.

    Posted by Kirsten
  2. very nice work , did you study under the Master Carl Court ?

    Posted by kelvin
  3. Great shots as always Leon. Always inspirational and class… Hope you and the family are well. Happy new year, hope it’s a good one.

    Posted by Timm Cleasby
  4. @Kirsten – Cheers petal. Yoragudun… x

    @Kelvin – Only in how to complain about everything. He can teach us all something about how to do that.

    @Timm – Cheers bud! Happy New Year to you guys too!

    Posted by tabascokid
  5. Truly exceptional.

    Posted by Juliet Mckee
  6. @Juliet – Ta, chuckles. x.

    @Luke – Thanks Luke. It’s certainly been a full year! Great post by yourself too. That passport must be well-thumbed by now!

    Posted by tabascokid
  7. Very impressive, right the way through. Happy New Year, indeed.

    Posted by Sandeha Lynch
  8. Fantastic, I loooooovvvveeee your work. What a brilliant job you have, great memories :)

    Posted by Suzanne
  9. @Sandeha – Thank you, Sir! Have a great 2013. I’ve JUST lifted Dolly out of her drawer for possible use tonight… :)

    @Suzanne – Thanks Suzanne. That’s very kind of you. I try to savour it!

    Posted by tabascokid
  10. Very talented you are ……. fantastic images and blog.

    Posted by Steve
  11. Really nice round up of your year Leon, how on earth can 2013 hope to compete with that??

    Posted by Tim Allen
  12. @Steve – Thanks bud.

    @Tim – I have no idea. I only have one assignment in my diary so far so we shall see what comes…

    Posted by tabascokid
  13. Wow what a year! As soon as I saw the grafitti reflection picture I thought of the painting the Scream by Edvard Munch! strangely similar especially the colours. A real pleasure looking at your work and remembering this amazing year.

    Posted by dana bolton
  14. Great work and interesting presentation as usual. Best Wishes !

    Posted by Denis Balibouse
  15. @Dana – Excellent! I got more of a Dali vibe but good to know it’s had the effect! :) Thanks for your kind words.

    @Denis – Cheers bud. Happy New Year!

    Posted by tabascokid
  16. A picture is worth a thousand words… who needs words when you produce fantastic images like this….Great…Happy New Year…Paul..

    Posted by Paul Delmar
  17. @Paul – High praise indeed! Cheers Paul and Happy New Year!

    Posted by tabascokid
  18. Lovely stuff, that cycling shot is pure skills!!

    Posted by David Fitzgerald
  19. All are fantastic shots but, as a scuba diver, the Malick Fall grabs me in particular – can’t stop going back and looking at it.

    Posted by steve bryson
  20. Great images and a good read as always,love the Queen and Prince Philip image and the Andy Murray one. Happy new year to you and your family mate.

    Posted by John Lynch
  21. An outstanding year and all the better for seeing it through your eyes. Can’t wait to see what next year brings and all the great images we’ll be seeing on this ‘ere blog!

    Posted by Neil
  22. Wonderful images – and words!
    Still in awe of the Tsonga dust shot. David Weir was amazing and your photo captures his determination superbly.
    I bought a Spinner based on your Royal Jubilee River Pageant story – what a fun bit of kit. I used it on Safari in Kenya to capture the vastness of the horizons out there.
    I also saw some zombies in front of Tate Britain in October and my first reaction was to look for you – in the photographers covering the event!
    With Very Best WIshes for the New Year.

    Posted by Ian Gillett
  23. @David – Thanks David. For “skills”, it’s quite possible you could replace it with the word “lucky” but thanks anyway! 😉

    @Steve – Cheers. Yeah, I like him too. I’m not sure it made anywhere but I think he made far better pictures than any of the other competitors.

    @John – Ha! Glad you like the Brenda and Phil shot. It does make me chuckle… Happy New Year to you and yours too!

    @Neil – Fingers crossed for fun assignments. It’s going to be hard to compete with 2012 but time will tell.

    @Ian – Thanks Ian. I bet the Kenyan shots worked brilliantly. The only thing I found with it was that you had to be pretty close to the action for it to really work. I’m not sure I’d try that near a pride of lions! Have a cracking 2013.

    Posted by tabascokid
  24. Phenomenal images. Always a pleasure viewing your work.

    Posted by Fraser Stephen
  25. Great Set. What a fab year you have had. I have seen many of your shots in the papers too. I look forward to seeing your images from this year.

    Posted by Craig Shepheard
  26. @Fraser – Thanks Fraser. I’d like to say it’s always a pleasure to compile but these end of year reviews are a right pain! :)

    @Craig – Cheers Craig. Fingers crossed for a top 2013 for us all.

    Posted by tabascokid
  27. Fantastic images Leon. I would love to know some of the technical info on how they were taken – particularly the performance art picture from the Olympics and the Rain room.

    Posted by David Cowan
  28. Thanks David. For your info, the Olympic performers were shot on a Nikon D4, using a 400mm f2.8 lens. The ISO was 2500 with a manual exposure of f3.5 at 200th/sec. The rainroom shot was taken using a Nikon D4 camera and a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens. The ISO was 640 with a manual exposure of f8 at 50th/sec. Hope that’s what you were after!

    Posted by tabascokid
  29. Hi Leon.
    Looks like it was a massive year for you . I hope this year is not a let down by comparison :-)
    What I like about any one’s photography is we all see different aspects within the pictures so it’s nice to know what you see in your own work .
    I agree with the top picture being classic . Reminds me of perfume commercials .
    The skaters show me the of the efforts from performers in making things seem easy .
    The car wheel arch for me is just inspired shooting . It shows me how much your brain is switched on to the tasks in hand .
    Your comments on the shooting of the Royals has left me realising that what seems a prestigious shoot can be possibly frustrating from a social viewpoint ( as in lack of interaction with ) and the planning in your head in advance of the days possibilities .
    How often do you pack a Lomography Spinner 360° with you ? You look like you use one quite a lot judging by the levelness of the horizon .
    For someone who describes themselves as not a sports shooter you do pretty well .
    In all you look like you had a great year and one that’s going to be hard to beat .
    Enjoy your new year .

    Posted by Ray Fothergill
  30. If I ever take as good an image as that velodrome shot, I’ll die a very happy man. Totally awesome dude. Love checking in on you from time to time, keep this blog going pal – it’s brilliant.

    Posted by Tom Ashmore
  31. Inspired stuff Leon – I’ve been away in Cameroon for a few weeks and kept trying to get this review to download over the glacial wifi – the tease has been phenomenal! The shot of Malick Fall is my personal fave – there’s always something amazing about stopped water, and the composition left me a bit green – nice one!
    Enjoying the blog as ever, thank you!


    Posted by alkaseltza
  32. Ha! I’m glad it was worth the wait! Thanks very much for your kind words. The Malick shot is possibly my favourite of the year but, at the time, it went nowwhere as it was all about Phelps and Lochte etc. I’m happy to be helping him get his moment in the light now though! 😉

    Posted by tabascokid

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