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Lifeboats, camera, action – Wild Scotland member announced as RNLI Photographer of the Year 2011.

Winning photo in the RNLI Photographer of the Year. Credit: Sam Jones, Islandscape Photography

Winning photo in the RNLI Photographer of the Year. Credit: Sam Jones

The volunteers of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution are ready to risk their lives to save others at a moment’s notice. But in order to be ready when the pager goes off they dedicate hours of their time to train – and that’s what this year’s RNLI Photographer of the Year managed to capture in her winning photograph.

Wild Scotland member, Sam Jones of Islandscape Photography took the shot of the crew during a man overboard training exercise in Bloody Bay in July. Sam is also volunteer Crew Member and Lifeboat Press Officer at Tobermory lifeboat station on the Isle of Mull.

Sam said: ‘My main photographic passion is landscape photography and I was really drawn to the stunning light that evening, but it’s the total focus and concentration of my fellow RNLI volunteers which really makes the image. The light, action and setting all came together. As with many of my crew photos on the lifeboat, it was taken with a long lens which helps me get more natural images as most of the time the guys don’t realise that I’m taking photographs.’

Despite being a photographer by profession, Sam was surprised to win the competition. She said: ‘It’s a huge honour to be named RNLI Photographer of the Year and to say that I’m chuffed is an understatement.’

Sam is keen to share the honour with her crew mates: ‘I’m really pleased that this particular image featuring my crewmates was chosen. While I always have a small compact camera with me in my ‘yellows’, I am first and foremost a member of the crew and lifeboat duties come first. I’d like to accept the award on behalf of everyone at Tobermory RNLI – I couldn’t have won it without them.’

The prize was presented by Rick Tomlinson, professional marine photographer and recent winner of the Inmarsat Media Pioneer Award. Rick said: ‘While there are many fantastic images of lifeboats in big seas I was particularly struck by the humanity in this picture; the eye lines and the concern in the faces of the crew as they dealt with a serious first aid training scenario.’

Eleanor Driscoll, RNLI Film and Image Manager and head judge of the competition, said: ‘The standard was very high this year, but Sam’s picture stood out as something different to what we’ve seen before. It shows the crew working together and gives a glimpse of the hard work they put in before the pager even goes off. I especially like the sense that the crew in the picture have come from their day jobs – one is still wearing his smart shirt beneath his Mustos – and are taking their training seriously. It gives us an idea of the camaraderie and professionalism of our volunteers.’

The competition aims to find pictures and footage that reflect the lifesaving work of the RNLI. Volunteers, crew and lifeguards send in pictures to compete in four categories; lifeboats, lifeguards, rescues and seas. An overall winner plus winners for the four categories are picked from the entries.

Our very many congratulations to Sam!

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