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Award-winning images capture Royal Navy’s missions from Afghanistan to the Arctic

23 October 2021
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Striking images which capture British military personnel evacuating civilians from Kabul have earned a Royal Navy photographer its highest prize.

The pictures and footage captured by Petty Officer Ben Shread over a few dramatic weeks in Afghanistan told the story of efforts by British soldiers, sailors and airmen – and were used by media outlets worldwide.

His canon of work from Kabul has earned him the coveted title of Royal Navy Photographer of the Year, one of numerous awards presented for stunning imagery and captivating films recording the ordinary – and extraordinary – work of Royal Navy personnel around the globe.

The Peregrine Trophy awards recognise the skill, professionalism and dedication of the small group of specialists – who join the Navy in other trades, including Royal Marines commandos, but chose to re-train as full-time photographers/camera operators.

Over the past 12 months, Royal Navy photographers have captured the activities and actions of sailors and Royal Marines from the Arctic to both sides of the Pacific, as well as the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Black Sea and the Gulf.

And at home they have recorded the involvement of the Service’s key national events such as the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh and State ceremonies, as well as Royal visits, emotional homecomings, support to civilian agencies dealing with the Covid pandemic and everyday activities from training to major exercises. 

Few stories have dominated the headlines the world over for days on end than events in Kabul in August.

Petty Officer Shread, originally from Plymouth but now living in Glasgow with his family, was part of a two-man team dispatched to record the actions of UK forces.

“Winning any trophy is a huge honour and I am overwhelmed to have been selected to win the top prize of Photographer of the Year,” said the 43-year-old father-of-two.

“Winning it with my images from Op Pitting makes it even better – it helps further highlight the great work the British military were doing out in Afghanistan.” 

A sailor for more than 20 years and a photographer for over a decade – including serving as the official photographer for Prime Ministers Theresa May and Boris Johnson – Ben has taken inspiration from previous winners of the award to continually improve his portfolio. 

“As a photographer, one important lesson I have learnt – and try to pass on – is to listen to and trust your instincts,” he added.

“I feel honoured to uphold a tradition that is ubiquitous the world over: storytelling, this award has inspired me even more to keep searching out the stories that the Royal Navy has to tell.” 

The entries year-on-year continue to impress and tell that essential story of a modern, global Royal Navy and what it has done over the past 12 months.

Warrant Officer 1st Class Rob Harding

The Peregrine Trophy itself – awarded to the best photographic team/unit across the Royal Navy – goes to the team at HMS Drake in Plymouth, the Fleet Regional Photographic Unit West, who focus their attention on ships and Royal Marines units in the South West.

“This is our second Peregrine Trophy in three years and an amazing achievement by the whole team here,” said Petty Officer (Photographer) Alex Ceolin, who also won an individual award chosen by the public for a stunning silhouette of patrol ship HMS Tamar at sunset.

“We are all extremely proud to have won both the Peregrine Trophy and Commandant General Royal Marines’ Award.

“Every member of the team here contributed towards both winning portfolios. Other units have greater experience, but in Plymouth, we have a great working environment and we all help each other out.”

The awards date back 60 years, taking their name from the then Royal Naval Air Station at Ford in Sussex, HMS Peregrine (today the site of the open prison).

The award’s primary purpose is to encourage the production of eye-catching, powerful imagery and video that can be used in the media to demonstrate the Royal Navy and Royal Marines operations.

More than 500 entries were submitted this year ¬– 486 photographs, 17 videos – and pored over by judges Jane Sherwood (Getty Images), Richard Pohle (a staff photographer with The Times), Steve Parsons (Press Association), Jack Ashdown (website developers Great State), Lee Durant (BBC) and Vince Knight (Vince Knight productions).

This year entries from the general public were introduced to the competition to encourage interest from the broader population and expand the diversity of submissions.

Warrant Officer 1st Class Rob Harding, the Royal Navy’s Senior Photographer, said: “It is encouraging to see that the competition still has its place in nurturing both professional and amateur artistic talent in telling the story of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines through imagery and video.

“The entries year-on-year continue to impress and tell that essential story of a modern, global Royal Navy and what it has done over the past 12 months.”

 

The full list of results

The Peregrine Trophy:
Winner: Fleet Regional Photographic Unit West
Highly commended: JIAG

Royal Navy Photographer of the Year 2021:
Winner: Petty Officer Photographer Ben Shread
Highly commended: Leading Photographer James Clarke

The Commandant General Royal Marines’ Portfolio Prize:
Winner: Fleet Regional Photographic Unit West
Highly commended: Fleet Regional Photographic Unit North

Global Operations Portfolio Prize:
Winner: Leading Photographer Belinda Alker
Highly commended: Petty Officer (Photographer) Ben Shread and Leading Photographers Rory Arnold and Dan Rosenbaum

Royal Navy Open Category Prize:
Winner: Leading Photographer Dan Rosenbaum
Highly commended: Petty Officer (Photographer) Ben Shread

Maritime Air Portfolio Prize:
Winner: Leading Photographer Belinda Alker
Highly commended: Petty Officer (Photographer) Alex Ceolin
Highly commended: Leading Photographer Finn Stainer-Hutchinson

RNRMC Family and Friends Prize:
Professional
Winner: Petty Officer (Photographer) Joel Rouse 
Highly commended: Petty Officer (Photographer) Paul Halliwell
Amateur
Winner: Lieutenant Commander Shaun Roster 

Public
Winner: Michelle Cahill 
Highly commended: Vanessa Cockayne

People at Work Prize:
Winner: Lieutenant Williams
Highly commended: Leading Photographer Finn Stainer-Hutchins

Diversity and Inclusion Prize:
Winner: Leading Photographer Finn Stainer-Hutchins 

The Navy News People’s Choice Prize, sponsored by the Greenwich Hospital:
Winner: Petty Officer (Photographer) Alex Ceolin

RN Short Form Story Telling Video Prize:
Winner: Leading Photographer James Clarke
Highly commended: Leading Photographer Dan Shepherd

Royal Navy Videographer of the Year 2021:
Winner: Leading Photographer James Clarke
Highly commended: Leading Photographer Dan Shepherd

Royal Navy Amateur Photographer of the Year 2021:
Winner: Lieutenant Williams (Britannia Royal Naval College)
Highly commended: AB Smith (Defence School of Photographer)

Royal Navy Amateur Maritime Image Prize:
Winner: Lieutenant Commander Shaun Roster 
Highly commended: Commander Michael Hutchinson

Royal Naval Association Prize:
Winner: Leading Photographer Lee Blease 
Highly commended: Petty Officer (Photographer) Alex Ceolin 

Royal Navy Amateur Videographer of the Year 2021:
Winner: AB Smith (Defence School of Photographer) 

 

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