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One-paper photographer retires after 46 years

Nearly half a century of looking at life through a lens in Hull and East Riding has come to an end.

Hull Daily Mail photographer Phil Dawes, left, has taken his last shots for the Northcliffe title having spent his entire 46-year career with the same paper.

He joined the Mail as a 15-year-old tea boy and learned the ropes the old-fashioned way, earning £2.50 a week to fetch the editor’s cigarettes and run copy from the courthouse to the newsroom.

After a year he learned the art of printing photos in the darkroom for the commercial department before working his way up the ranks.

He said: “There is no doubt the job has changed from what it used to be. The principles are the same, but the way the work is done differs.

“When I first started the photographers were using VD cameras with glass negatives.

“Years ago when covering a football or rugby match, they would have eight negatives and no automatic focus – you had eight chances to get a photo, but now when we come back from a game we can sometimes have 400 shots to sort through.

“I have had very good times at the Mail, experienced some fantastic moments and met some very good friends. It is those people I am going miss more than anything.”

Among the big stories Phil chronicled were the terrible floods of June 2007 and the train crash at Great Heck in 2001, which killed six passengers and four staff and seriously injured 82 people.

  • Phil going the extra yard to capture the dramatic floods of 2007
  • He has also witnessed at close quarters Hull City FC’s first ever season in the top division of English football.

    Phil cited the team’s famous 2-1 victory at the home of high flyers Arsenal in September last year as one of his career highlights.

    “I am a Hull lad through and through. I have been at Boothferry Park and the KC Stadium through the thick and thin, but to be part of that victory – one of the Tigers’ most famous – was an honour,” he said.

    “We are in a very privileged position as press photographers and I never forgot that.” Mail editor John Meehan said: “Phil’s service to the company has been truly phenomenal. We all wish him every happiness in his retirement. It is richly deserved.”

  • Phil’s departure prompted a reshuffled on the Mail’s picture desk. Imaging manager Jim Mitchell is now picture editor and will run the desk for the main part of the day. Photographic team leader Dave Barker and deputy photographic team leader Rob Stebbing are sharing duties and cover.
  • Comments

    lensgirl (30/07/2009 11:50:04)
    Good luck Phil.
    Anyone noticed how local papers now use any old crappy snap taken on £50 digital rather than pay proper photographers (ie qualified freelances) The only consolation is that in typical weekly paper fashion they use them the size of postage stamps so no-one notices. Trouble is they do the same to the staffers stuff.
    Bring back good pictures to local rags, say I.

    UB40 (30/07/2009 14:21:46)
    The lousy rates and terms (if any) offered to freelance photographers is symptomatic of the Newspaper industry in crisis.Daily requests to “send us your pictures” to those that do not know better is contemptible.All the best Phil.You are a lucky man.

    freelancer (31/07/2009 16:47:29)
    Just to agree with the comments about freelance rates, they are so poor taking all costs into account, how can freelancers actually make a living? Good luck to Phil!