PA Media photographers choose their best photographs from the past year and reflect on the stories behind the images.
Ben Birchall was the only news photographer present at Highgrove House, where the then Prince of Wales (now King Charles III) danced with one of the guests, Bridget Tibbs, during a tea dance hosted by The Prince’s Foundation to mark the Platinum Jubilee.
“I consciously remember pulling back, leaving space to blend into guests and just observing without a camera to my eye.
“I could sense someone would ask him to dance, so I moved into the empty floor space, switched to my 20mm prime lens, and sure enough they began to waltz towards me.
“I remember almost swaying with them across the floor to keep them in the frame as I don’t have a zoom lens, which made it quite a personal moment for me also. They both looked as though they thoroughly enjoyed the spotlight, and everyone in the room was beaming from ear to ear to see not only how much fun they were having, but how gracefully they danced together.
“The dancing progressed for over two minutes, which is a lifetime in photography, but in true reportage fashion the nervous energy, charisma and spontaneity happened within the first 10 seconds. After that, the dancefloor crowded out and polite conversation replaced energetic giggles.”
Lionesses win the Euros
Joe Giddens was at Wembley Stadium to capture a shot of Lioness Chloe Kelly, after she scored the winning goal of the Uefa Women’s Euro 2022 final.
“This was a picture that summed up the passion shown by the Lionesses on their way to winning the Euros.
“The joy on the faces of the players shows just what it meant to them, and Chloe Kelly removing her shirt and swinging it around her head became the iconic image inspiring women and girls around the world.”
Queen surprises at Elizabeth line opening
Andrew Matthews was at Paddington station for the opening of the Elizabeth line when rumours began swirling that the Queen would make a surprise visit herself – instead of her son the Earl of Wessex as planned.
“A sudden flurry of activity saw two workmen arrive to remove the plaque that had the name of the Earl of Wessex on it to replace it with one bearing the name of Her Majesty the Queen.
“At that moment a slight panic set in as I knew that it had become the story of the day and that as rota photographer I needed to get pictures of Her Majesty, and get them out to the wire as soon as possible as news outlets would be wanting them.
“When Her Majesty arrived she was met by many dignitaries and the area was quite busy with people, so it was hard to get a clean photograph.
“I took a chance and positioned myself at the end of the greeting line knowing the direction she would walk, and managed to get this photograph of her as she moved herself from one line-up to another.”
Harry Kane pops in an unexpected shot
When Adam Davy was at the Amex Stadium in Brighton covering Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League win, he did not realise he had managed to catch Harry Kane volleying a Coca-Cola bottle thrown by a fan until after the event.
“As I watched Harry Kane celebrate his winning goal, I noticed something fly through the air in the frame and Kane reacted by kicking it.
“It wasn’t until he walked back to the halfway line and I looked through my pictures to see it was a plastic bottle of Coke thrown from Spurs’ fans, which he just kicked in mid-air.
“Needless to say I was very happy with the pictures I got.”
Prince Louis steals the show
At Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Aaron Chown was in a prime position to capture Prince Louis’ now-famous facial expressions.
“Standing in the fixed-point position on the Victoria Memorial, looking up at members of the Royal Family out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee flypast, it became clear that Prince Louis was stealing the show.
“He could be seen making a series of expressions, having a chat with the Queen, and then covering his ears when the some 70 military planes flew overhead and became deafeningly loud.
“It was a fun, natural moment that I was privileged to be there for.”
Golfers in the gloaming at St Andrews
Jane Barlow was at golf’s Open Championship at St Andrews to catch an atmospheric shot of the silhouettes of South Korean golfer Mingyu Cho and his caddy just before they lost the light.
“This picture was taken at around 22:30 BST as the very last group crossed the famous Swilcan Bridge on the 18th, and they just managed to complete their round in time before the low light stopped play.”
Nick’s trick at Wimbledon
One of the most talked-about players at Wimbledon this year was Nick Kyrgios. Zac Goodwin took a unique action shot during the Australian’s defeat to Novak Djokovic in the men’s final.
“This position would usually provide limited opportunities for interesting images of players on the near side of the court, ‘usually’ being the key word.
“I was incredibly lucky to be shooting Nick Kyrgios, the man who plays exhibition shots for fun.
“Noticing a pattern of Nick attempting to play a ‘tweener/hot-dog’ through his legs, I was eventually gifted with a shot of him returning a lob from Djokovic.”
Photographer becomes subject
Ian West was on hand when photographer David Bailey launched his exhibition Vision And Sound, showcasing his portraiture of celebrities and other subjects from the 1960s and beyond, including John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney.
“I had 15 minutes to take my pictures before he had a TV interview booked, so I had to get a move-on.
“I saw the photograph of John and Paul and thought ‘that’s where I want to take my picture’, and hopefully get David sitting under Paul. The problem was all the furniture that was in exactly the place I needed to stand, and in the place I needed David to sit.
“There wasn’t a lot of room to be able to move stuff about, and also people were using the bar at the time so I started moving stuff, I started stacking stuff, I set up my lights and got David into the position I wanted.
“By then I had about two minutes left. I took a few pictures and he was then on his way to his TV interview, which then gave me time to put all the furniture back and repack my camera gear.”
Cyclists collide dramatically in velodrome
John Walton was in the right place when a terrifying crash happened during the Commonwealth Games cycling held in London, as England’s Matt Walls went over the barrier into the crowd.
“(It was a) spectacular crash at the Commonwealth Games. The rider crashed into the crowd as anguished spectators looked on in horror as the accident unfolded.”
Walls and two of the other cyclists who were involved in the crash were taken to hospital with minor injuries. A spectator required surgery after suffering a deep cut to the arm, and a girl was treated at the scene.
Race turns upside down for F1 driver
Another sporting accident was caught by Tim Goode, who took a picture of the dramatic collision that sent Zhou Guanyu off-course in the British Grand Prix.
Tim said: “(Guanyu) said he did not know how he survived the opening-corner accident at Silverstone.
“He ended up wedged between a steel barrier and metal catch fencing after he was flipped upside down and out of control at 160mph, but emerged unscathed from one of the biggest crashes in recent Formula 1 memory.”
A winning performance
Amid a hectic Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Mike Egerton caught an unusually serene image of rhythmic gymnast Suzanna Shahbazian competing.
“Most of the time sports photography is all about capturing that dramatic moment, but the thing I like most about this shot is its simplicity and grace.
“I had a small gap between two television cameras where I had to hope the gymnast jumped so that the background was kept clean. I got lucky with this shot as she jumped in just the right spot and luckily the ribbons were captured at just the right moment.”
Pallbearers’ solemn duty
Peter Byrne was among photographers lining the route of the Queen’s funeral procession in September as her coffin left Westminster Abbey.
“When it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away, the nation was in mourning.
“While there were many images I had taken, I chose this as a favourite.
“I liked the coffin sitting proud above the sea of faces of the service personnel chosen to walk in procession.”
A son and a nation mourn
Jonathan Brady was at Windsor Castle in Berkshire to capture the historic moment the King placed the Company Camp Colour of the Grenadier Guards on his late mother’s coffin.
“This and one other image were the most poignant images I made during the funeral service for the late Queen held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
“However, this image seemed to have the most resonance in terms of its use in the papers the following day.”
All photographs subject to copyright.