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Remembering Eamonn McCabe Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

4 October 2022

The British photographer and picture editor Eamonn McCabe has died at the ages of 74.

Born in North London in 1948, McCabe briefly attended film school in San Francisco, but was otherwise a self-taught photographer.

He was initially interested in music photography by became disillusioned with the music scene "when people like Alvin Stardust and Gary Glitter came along," he said. So, as a die-hard soccer fan, he shifted gears into sports photography.

"As with rock, I loved the unpredictability of it all," he recalled.

After working for local newspapers where he learned " how to turn up on time, shoot to size and barter with people," he began freelancing for The Guardian and other national publications. He joined The Observer in 1976 where he won Sports Photographer of the Year four times covering three Olympics.

As a sports photographer, he covered the 1985 European Cup Final between Liverpool and Juventus, capturing the tragic images of the Heysel Stadium disaster in which Juventus fans were crushed by the collapse of a concrete wall after being rushed by inebriated Liverpool fans. McCabe was recognized as news photographer of the year for the photos he took that day.

"I'd gone there to cover a Liverpool-Juventus match, but I ended up photographing 39 people dying," he said.

He was named a fellow in photography at the National Museum of Film, Photography and Television in 1988 when he joined The Guardian as its picture editor shortly after a stint editing photos for SportsWeek. As The Guardian's photo editor, he would win Picture Editor of the Year a record six times.

He returned to freelancing in 2001, creating portraits of artists, musicians, writers, poets and actors, many of which are in the National Portrait Gallery. "I love portraits of loners and mavericks. They're the people who interest me," he confessed.

In later years, he appeared regularly on radio and TV talking about photography. He presented the three-part series Britain in Focus: A Photographic History for the BBC, and in 2019 co-wrote a book on the history of aerial photography.

He was a visiting senior fellow in photography at the University of Suffolk, held an honorary doctorate of the University of East Anglia and Staffordshire University, and was an honorary professor at Thames Valley University.

A selection of his work can be seen on his Web site. The Guardian also has a selection of his images.

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