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June 2010

Matthew Lloyd won the 2009 ‘The Times/Canon Young Photographer of the Year' competition and, as the key part of his prize, has spent almost six months on work placement as a photographer for the world famous newspaper. CPN editor Steve Fairclough spoke to Matthew Lloyd about his experiences working for the paper and what he has learnt since winning the award.

Unlike many photojournalists Matthew Lloyd's love of photography wasn't nurtured at a particularly young age. He admits: "I didn't pick up photography until quite late – I was at sixth form college and went on a college trip where I took some photographs. I wasn't talking pictures of people – just views and landscapes."

Matthew began a course in management at Leeds University but he reveals: "I started shooting stuff for the student paper and I found out about the photojournalism course at Sheffield College – it sounded quite interesting." But Matthew had to be tenacious to secure a place on the course: "I phoned and chased to get an interview and I spent a year out of education, working, before I went to Sheffield College when I was 21."

© Matthew Lloyd/The Times

Actress Jaime Winstone at the BAFTA Awards in Covent Garden, London. Shot on the EOS-1D Mark IV, with the EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, the exposure was 1/250sec at f/5 with -1 stop of exposure compensation, ISO 1000.

The course at Sheffield College is one of the few photojournalism courses that's recognised by the UK's National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) so, at the end of his academic year, Matthew walked away with an official qualification that would easily meet with peer approval. He recalls: "The only real study in the classroom is law, learning about newspapers and some technical stuff about cameras. I spent about three months in the classroom and the rest of the time on local assignments."

While on assignments and still at college Matthew's pictures began to appear in a number of local newspapers such as the Leicester Mercury, the Derby Telegraph, the Birmingham Evening Post and the Yorkshire Post.

"Straight after leaving college I got a job with a local agency – North News," he says. "It was tough at first, but you learn a lot and you get to see your work in national newspapers." So, what was his first photograph that was published nationally in the UK?

© Matthew Lloyd/The Times

The newly elected UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha wave to the media from the doorstep of number 10 Downing Street. Shot on the EOS 5D Mark II, with the TS-E45mm f/2.8 lens, the exposure was 1/250sec at f/3.5, ISO 1600.

He remembers: "The first picture was the athlete Dean Macey, at Hexham, when he bowed out of his Olympic bid." The image shows a distraught Macey in the arms of his mother after realising his athletic ambitions were in tatters, but a self-deprecating Matthew admits: "I hadn't been sent there with a specific brief – it just happened. The picture was in the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express as a half page, but it didn't make me famous overnight."

Matthew decided to enter The Times/Canon Young Photographer of the Year competition in 2009 and entry pictures were required in 'Lifestyle', 'Portraiture' and 'Reportage' categories. After entering, as time went by, he thought little more of it and felt he had probably missed out. He recalls: "Out of the blue I got a phone call to come to an interview as one of the shortlisted photographers. You had to shoot a news picture for them and I decided to shoot a cannabis factory."

The winner was announced at the Canon Pro Photo Solutions event in London in October 2009 when Matthew discovered, much to his surprise, he had won. The Times' Night Picture Editor, Scott Montgomery, commented at the time: "They were original subjects, shot with an inventiveness, flair and dedication rarely found in someone so young."

As part of the prize he received an EOS 5D Mark II DSLR, two Canon zoom lenses (the EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM and the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM), the Canon Speedlite 580EX II flashgun and a year's membership of the British Press Photographers' Association.

But probably the key part of the prize is a six-month work placement with The Times newspaper under the guidance of the paper's Picture Editor, Paul Sanders, and many of its experienced staff photographers. Matthew began on The Times in early December 2009 and admits: "It's been really good – I've done news, features, portraits, sports and travelled. It's been a whole variety and mix of jobs, even film premieres, so I've really worked for all sections of the newspaper. I'm getting pictures published two to three times a week."

Until he began working for The Times Matthew admits he wasn't shooting with Canon equipment, but he now says: "I do like my EOS-1D Mark IV – I think it is brilliant. At the moment I don't have vast swathes of equipment but I love using the Mark IV. It's just a nice camera to use – it's fast, focuses well and it's tough as well. I'd like it to be full frame but I can live with it as my EF85mm f/1.2L II USM lens becomes about a 105mm, which is fine for portraits."

His kitbag also includes the EOS 5D Mark II and EOS-1D Mark II DSLRs, plus a perennial favourite lens of photojournalists – the EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM – the aforementioned 85mm lens, plus the EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, and EF400mm f/2.8L IS USM lenses.

© Matthew Lloyd/The Times

A city trader at the BCG brokerage in Canary Wharf, London, talks on two phones at once as the then Chancellor (UK finance minister) Alistair Darling makes his final budget announcement before the 2010 General Election. Shot on the EOS 5D Mark II, with the EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens, the exposure was 1/60sec at f/2.8, ISO 400.

Matthew reveals: "The 85mm f/1.2 lens is brilliant – the lens is pretty much always on my camera. Next on my list to get are the EF50mm f/1.2L USM and the EF24mm f/1.4L II USM prime lenses – I really like the shallow depth-of-field you get with those lenses."

© Matthew Lloyd/The Times

Davender Ghai, 70, a devout Hindu, pictured outside the High Court in London as he awaits a verdict on his attempt to overturn a Newcastle Council decision preventing outdoor funeral pyres being held in line with religious practice. Shot on the EOS 5D Mark II, with the EF85mm f/1.2L II USM lens, the exposure was 1/400sec at f/1.2, ISO 50.

Matthew's experiences with The Times have included being stranded in Poland by waves of volcanic ash in the airspace after covering the funeral of the country's former President, Lech Kaczynski, and the latter part of the 2010 UK General Election as well as the hectic aftermath of political manoeuvring by the main parties.

Matthew explains: "To cover the election I've been carrying a 16-35mmm, a 70-200mm, and a 400mm f/2.8 lens, which weighs a fair amount, plus three tilt and shift lenses, a laptop and some stepladders. I've been at David Cameron's house at 6.30am and sometimes working until I leave Westminster at 10pm at night." Notably the tilt and shift lenses were on loan to serve a very specific purpose in Downing Street.

He continues: "Sometimes it can be days and days waiting around and then, suddenly, you have to rig up your remote camera, like the day when David Cameron was going to become Prime Minister. For Downing Street I used Pocketwizards as a remote trigger and a 45mm tilt and shift lens on the building so I could keep the vertical lines vertical. I was shooting from around 50 metres away."

The day before Matthew admits he missed the Gordon Brown resignation speech shot for two simple reasons. He had been called away to cover another story at the Cabinet Office and couldn't get back in to Downing Street on his return, so had to shoot remotely from around 200 metres away. Also, his remote set up was focused close to the door of 10 Downing Street rather than on a lecturn some five metres further forward where Brown made his resignation speech. Lesson learned.

So, now that his six-month placement is nearing an end what has Matthew thought of it? "I've loved it – it's working for probably the best paper in the country. You're trusted to go out and do a job and, unless it's a specific job, you're left to have creative freedom. You get feedback, but it's all constructive feedback, and you just progress as you go along," he reveals.

Matthew adds: "Being in London you get into the whole ‘system' – London is where it's happening as down here it's national stories day in, day out. Sometimes you can turn up to a job with 30 other photographers so it's interesting to find out how to get positions, and cover events such as film premieres. Sometimes I pick the brains of other photographers."

© Matthew Lloyd/The Times

A protestor in a Tony Blair mask, with bloodied hands and handcuffs, demonstrates in a cage outside the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in central London as former Prime Minister Tony Blair gives evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry about the circumstances leading to the Iraq War. Shot on the EOS 5D Mark II, with the EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens, the exposure was 1/160sec at f/2.8 with -2/3 stop of exposure compensation, ISO 320.

Talking of photographers does he have any inspirations or influences? Matthew thinks before answering: "I'm not one of these people who likes specific photographers – I'm more into ‘styles' (of photography). I love a lot of what the Reportage by Getty Images photographers do."

With The Times Young Photographer of the Year 2010 competition due to open for entries in June this year CPN asked Matthew if he had any advice for young photographers thinking of entering. He advises: "Ask others to take a look at the photos you are thinking of entering. Get as much experience as you can and try to understand the industry. For example, I already knew of Paul Sanders at The Times and had had some work experience before. As long as you've got your head screwed on, you'll be OK."

© Matthew Lloyd/The Times

A model walks on the catwalk during the Paul Smith fashion show in Claridges Ballroom, London. Shot on the EOS 5D Mark II, with the EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens, the exposure was 1/800sec at f/6.3 with -2 stops of exposure compensation, ISO 4000.

Matthew adds: "Just enjoy what you're doing – don't spend all your time worrying about playing it safe. Don't take the shots others take, and be as adventurous and creative as you want."

And what of his own future? Matthew says: "I'm with The Times until 7 June and may have to go freelance after that. I'm sure they (The Times) will help me as much as possible – most of the previous winners of the award have freelanced (for The Times) in the past. I'm happy to get a mixture of work – I've never wanted to be pigeon-holed and I'm happy to work across the board."

With a modest and very honest manner, not to mention a great degree of skill behind the lens across many genres of photography, it's very likely that the name Matthew Lloyd will crop up as a credit beside some superb photographs in an even wider range of publications in the very near future.


Matthew Lloyd's equipment:

EOS-1D Mark IV
EOS 5D Mark II

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
EF85mm f/1.2L II USM
EF400mm f/2.8L IS USM

Speedlite 580EX II
Speedlite 430EX II
WFT-E2 Wireless File Transmitter
Apple MacBook Pro laptop

Biografía: Matthew Lloyd

Matthew  Lloyd

After developing a love of photojournalism on a student newspaper Matthew Lloyd quit his original university course to take an NCTJ qualification in Press & Photojournalism at Sheffield College. Whilst still studying he began to get his work published by local newspapers in central England and then he joined the picture agency, News North. With his work beginning to be published in the UK’s national newspapers Matthew entered the 2009 The Times/Canon Young Photographer of the Year competition and won a six-month placement with The Times newspaper.


Chelsea's Yury Zhirkov lies on the floor whilst receiving treatment after a knock to the head during their Premier League fixture against Bolton at Stamford Bridge. Shot on the EOS-1D Mark IV, with the EF400mm f/2.8L IS USM lens, the exposure was 1/640sec at f/3.5 with -1 stop of exposure compensation, ISO 2000.