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'One-off' former chief photographer dies aged 76

A chief photographer who served his community for 32 years has died aged 76.

Former colleagues of Denis Williams, left, at the Welwyn Hatfield Times have lined up to pay tribute to a “one-off” photographer who died at his home in Welwyn Garden City.

A well-known figure in the town, Denis worked for the paper, now owned by Archant, from 1959 up to his retirement in 1991.

He continued to keep close links with the weekly up to his death, often dropping in stories and pictures to the paper’s office.

Times editor Terry Mitchinson led tributes, saying: “Denis was a one-off and will be missed by all of us who knew him.

“He was a brilliant man to work with and learn from. He was professional, hugely enthusiastic and always determined to do the best job possible.”

Former editor Robert Richardson said: “Few local papers can have had photographers as good as Denis Williams.

“His record of Welwyn Hatfield and its people over so many years is invaluable.

“My wife and I asked him to take our wedding photographs, and during the reception I saw him almost casually pressing the shutter from time to time.

“When we saw the results, we were amazed at how he had captured the personality of people he had never met. You need a very rare talent to do that.”

Aside from photography, Denis’ other great passion was jazz, and for more than 40 years he snapped thousands of musicians who played in the area.

Many of his pictures were used on the record sleeves of top jazz stars.

John Newton, secretary of the Herts Jazz club, added: “He was the club’s unofficial photographer for years. We’ve got a great collection of his photos. He was a good friend of the club and he will be sadly missed.”

  • Denis with some of his jazz pictures and album covers in 1988