A regional press photographer who covered war zones and World Cups has passed away aged 68.
While in Belfast, where he had moved after starting his career as a trainee on the Scottish Daily Mail in Glasgow’s York Street, he took the first picture of a British soldier to be killed in The Troubles and built a portfolio of “classic” war zone images.
In 1970, aged 21, he won the title of Irish Feature Photographer of the Year but returned to Glasgow after deciding Northern Ireland was an unsafe place for his young family following a Belfast bomb blast in which his wife and daughter came close to injury.
After six months of freelancing he took a staff job in Morecambe, but eventually found a job back in his native Glasgow on The Herald in 1973.
An obituary by Gordon Mack in The Herald states: “His assignments were many and varied and added to his extensive portfolio – pictures of almost every celebrity of the day from the royal family to prime ministers and popes, trade unionists, actors and pop stars.
“He always tried to convey a sense of artistry – even in his favourite subject, sport, and football in particular.”
Gordon added: “He avidly followed the fortunes of the Scottish team despite a turbulent assignment to Argentina in 1978 to cover the disastrous World Cup campaign where he found himself ordered to supply pictures to both The Herald and its sister paper The Evening Times.
“This meant having to field telephone instructions from sports desks and editors heedless of time differences or each other’s deadlines, and ravenous for images of Ally Macleod, Willie Johnston, Archie Gemmill or anyone who figured in the debacle.
“He recalled an irate editor waking him at 5am one day demanding a shot of disgraced Willie Johnston [who tested positive for a banned stimulant during the tournament] for the next edition. Johnston was several hundred miles away in another city at the time. ‘Eventually I hung up on him,’ he said later, adding with a wry grin. ‘Well, I just said it was a terrible line…'”
During the 1980s under the editorship of Arnold Kemp, Ian’s pictures won him dozens of awards.
In 1984 he was simultaneously Scottish Photographer of the Year and Scottish Sports Photographer of the Year and his work featured more than once in the World Press Photo Annual.
Former Herald picture editor Jim Connor said: “Ian was the consummate professional: both original and unique. He was kind and considerate to subjects, but always single-minded.
“He was resolute in pursuit of what he saw as the best picture and would never give up until he got it. On two-handed jobs there was never any question Ian was working to get his picture into the paper in preference to mine.”
Ian was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1988, but continued to work until retiring on health grounds in 1999 – despite initially being told he had anywhere from six weeks to 10 years to live.
He underwent two operations, the most recent six years ago, with doctors confessing his longevity put medicine into “uncharted territory”.
He died on 21 August, and an obituary appeared on the Herald’s website on Saturday.
Ian is survived by Ann, his wife of 47 years, children Sinead and Paul, and grandchildren Eilidh and Robbie.