The story behind an award-winning photograph

Jonathan Gawthorpe recently picked up the JPIMedia award for image of the year. Here he tells the story behind his award-winning shot — illustrating the challenge of the job — respecting the privacy of the individual and the professionalism of getting the picture.

Jonathan Gawthorpe

Nearly 20,00 Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls, as well as fans from many other clubs turned out to support Rob Burrow in his battle with Motor Neurone Disease, as the Rhinos great was reduced to tears in his final appearance for the one club he has only ever played for.

Rob was told just before Christmas that he had the illness, that there is currently no cure for.

On Sunday 12th January he made his last outing, playing in teammate Jamie Jones-Buchanan’s testimonial. Jamie had shared the game funds with Rob to raise funds to tackle MND and it was clear that Rob’s story was going to become the big story of the day.

We had heard that Rob was going to come onto the pitch before the start with his two daughters and his son Jackson, who he had never taken onto the pitch before. I took my position amongst a huge turnout of photographers and cameramen, waiting for him to appear.

We could see down the tunnel and Jones-Buchanan appeared first with his family and Burrow behind. They walked out of the tunnel and as soon as I saw Rob, you could see the emotion on his face. It was a difficult shot to get , as the emotion was only there for a second and I had to deal with Jamie and his family in the foreground.

The following day the photograph appeared on the front pages of both the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post, nearly taking out both fronts.

I was thrilled to win the image of the year and love working in the county of Yorkshire. We have a great team of photographers at the YP and everyone has their own talents and I’m very proud to be part of that team.

See details of all the winners here.

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The stories behind the stories, from the regional press in the UK

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