The winning imageAlex HandleyPress Release:
Never mind those characters in the blue-and-white football shirts
singing Arrivederci Roma, the real winner of this year's World Cup was
Alex Handley who triumphed in the Spirit of the World Cup competition
sponsored by Ilford Photo to win a year's supply (365 rolls) of Ilford
film of his choice.
The competition provided an open palette to photographers of all walks,
with no restrictions on subject matter or location, provided it
reflected the enthusiasm which surrounded this quadrennial highlight of
the world sporting stage.
The many hundreds of competition contestants covered an extremely wide
range of takes on the subject theme, from celebrations to
commiserations, from anticipation to action. However, the winning image
did not actually feature football or players or even fans of the game,
but showed the extent to which patriotism extended to all areas of
daily life while the nation held its breath over the four weeks leading
up to the 9 July final.
The photographer who, in the judges' opinion, best captured the spirit
of the tournament was Alex Handley, a 38-year old professional
photographer based in Leeds. Handley's vocation is photojournalism,
though he takes on other types of work - weddings, portraiture, etc -
in between times to pay the bills.
Following gaining his Masters degree in photography and working in a
variety of situations, Handley decided 10 years ago to follow his
passion and specialise in freelance photojournalism dealing both
through agencies and direct with newspaper and magazine publishers. He
covers a variety of commissions from politics - covering local and
general elections - to spiritualism to bingo, with his favourite
subjects - stories about Yorkshire and about circuses - taking special
Handley's approach to covering circuses extends not just to
breath-taking acts, but to the communities which make up the world of
circuses and circus performers, endeavouring to capture the bigger
picture beyond those aspects usually seen. Recent work in this arena
(sic) extends to press and PR work for Billy Smart's Circus and
coverage for circus publications.
An inspiration of Handley's was the late Tony Ray-Jones whose short
life (1941-1972) abruptly ended the introduction of what was regarded
as the development of the English school of candid photography in the
1960s, mostly via his career-long study of 'The English', capturing the
idiosyncratic and extraordinary among the everyday lives of the English
at work and play.
Tragically, in January 1972 Ray-Jones was diagnosed as suffering from
leukaemia and returned to England from the US where he had been working
and seeking a publisher for his book on The English. He died a few days
later, but had already set in motion a style of raw black-and-white
photography which reflected 'real life'.
It is a style which Handley has successfully attempted to emulate in
his own work, not least with his endeavour to reach behind the glamour
and the excitement of the World Cup tournament, as well as in other
work including a photographic study into how ephemeral such patriotism
can be when the team loses and those once proudly-waved flags are
discarded, to be left in the gutters.
Handley uses digital photography wherever it is appropriate, but his
love, and certainly his choice for his own work, is black-and-white
film. “I have used Ilford film all my working life
he says, “and would never be without it. It is the
one true medium which captures the emotion and passion of life - a real