John Downing MBE FRPS
Born in Llanelli South Wales John began his career as an apprentice photographic printer for the Daily Mail 1956-61. He worked for The Express as a freelance from 1962-64 then staff photographer 1964-2001, becoming chief photographer 1985-2001; and continuing as freelance ever since.
He has covered most major wars, including Vietnam, East Pakistan/Bangladesh, Rhodesia, Beirut, Iraq, Somalia, Rwanda, Croatia, and over a dozen visits to Bosnia. Lived rough for many weeks with Guerilla fighters in Sudan, Nicaragua, and three times in Afghanistan. Hitch-hiked on lorries along the “Road of Death” across Central America. Beaten and imprisoned in Uganda by Idi Amin in what the Daily Express described on its front page headline as “World exclusive pictures” taken inside the black hole of Kampala. He was present inside the Grand Hotel, Brighton, when the IRA bomb resulting in further world exclusive photographs.
He was a founder of the Press Photographers’ Association and was president until 1986.
Just some of his awards include Rothman’s British Press Pictures of the Year 1971; Ilford British Press Photographer of the Year 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1988 and 1989; IPC British Press Photographer of the Year 1977 and 1980 ; UN Photography Gold Medal 1978; Photokina Gold Medal 1978; Martini Royal Newspaper Photographer of the Year 1990; Kodak Feature Photographer of the Year 1992/93; La Nacion (Argentina) International Photographer of the Year 1994-95; overall winner of the British Airways London Eye Photography Competition 2001; and British Picture Editors’ Guild Lifetime Achievement Award 2001. He was honoured with an MBE for “Services to journalism” in 1992 and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 2011.