Guardian and Observer photographer Eamonn McCabe dies aged 74

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Eamonn McCabe, 1 of the astir celebrated and admired paper photographers and representation editors of his generation, has died aged 74.

McCabe was a multi-award-winning sports lensman astatine the Observer from 1976 and aboriginal became a trailblazing representation exertion of the Guardian astatine a cardinal infinitesimal successful its history. His 3rd enactment was arsenic a representation photographer, with 29 examples of his work successful the postulation of the National Portrait Gallery.

McCabe’s decease astatine his location successful Suffolk connected Sunday was abrupt and unexpected. His wife, Rebecca Smithers, a erstwhile Guardian journalist, said McCabe was a kind, humble and encouraging character.

“He was precise generous to younger photographers coming up done the system,” she said. “He was precise encouraging. He would springiness large lectures but besides speech to tiny small camera clubs successful colony halls. If radical wanted to perceive astir his enactment helium was blessed to bash that.”

The war lensman Don McCullin described McCabe arsenic a beauteous and straightforward man. “He was precise passionate astir photography and whenever you dealt with him helium was ever honorable and a precise bully quality being. Like astir of us, his beingness was photography.”

The boxer Sylvester Mittee tapes his hands earlier  a grooming  league   astatine  Frank Warren’s gym successful  King’s Cross, London successful  1984.
The boxer Sylvester Mittee tapes his hands earlier a grooming league astatine Frank Warren’s gym successful King’s Cross, London, successful 1984. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

McCullin said McCabe chopped his teeth successful what were the champion of times, photographically, earlier the integer revolution.

“Photography has mislaid its mode a bit, the mode colour and integer and each those things person travel into fashion. A batch of radical similar maine and him astir apt thought our fig was up.”

McCabe photographed McCullin for portraits connected 2 occasions. He said: “He was conscionable specified a bully guy, helium was ever truthful enthusiastic.”

Katharine Viner, the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, said: “Eamonn was a fantastic lensman and highly skilled representation editor, who helped marque the Guardian and Observer into ocular powerhouses.

“He was besides a beauteous antheral – arsenic a young Guardian writer I was ever thrilled if helium was assigned to the aforesaid communicative arsenic me. He volition beryllium greatly missed.”

Diego Maradona is fouled during a affable  planetary   betwixt  West Germany and Argentina successful  Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1982.
Diego Maradona is fouled during a affable planetary betwixt West Germany and Argentina successful Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1982. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

The erstwhile Guardian exertion Alan Rusbridger said McCabe was antithetic successful that helium fundamentally had 3 careers – athletics photographer, representation exertion and past representation photographer.

“It is precise uncommon for idiosyncratic who does enactment sports to maestro the creation of representation photography. I deliberation helium is unsocial successful that respect. He spanned 3 fields and excelled astatine each of them.”

Ladies’ Day astatine  Royal Ascot, 1976.
Ladies’ Day astatine Royal Ascot, 1976. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

McCabe was calved successful northbound London and, speech from a spell astatine a movie schoolhouse successful San Francisco, was self-taught arsenic a photographer. He joined the Observer successful 1976 and soon became a star, winning sports lensman of the twelvemonth 4 times.

He photographed the titanic Borg v McEnroe tennis matches, took a memorable representation of Brendan Foster moving successful the rain connected his mode to breaking the satellite 10,000 metres record, and was determination for the 1978 Boat Race successful which the Cambridge vessel sank.

“My archetypal Boat Race, they sink, I get the blasted for it … but it made a beauteous picture,” he said successful 1 interview.

One of his astir memorable pictures was of the Chinese array tennis subordinate Li Zhenshi and his staggeringly precocious serve.

In 1985, helium was named quality lensman of the twelvemonth for his images from the Heysel stadium disaster.

Juventus fans astatine  Heysel stadium successful  1985.
Juventus fans astatine Heysel stadium successful 1985. McCabe was named quality lensman of the twelvemonth for his images of the disaster. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

After a spell arsenic representation exertion of Robert Maxwell’s short-lived SportsWeek, McCabe was hired arsenic the Guardian’s representation exertion by the paper’s editor, Peter Preston. It was a clip erstwhile the caller Independent paper was overmuch much daringly showing the powerfulness of quality photography and the Guardian, which had immoderate large photographers, was falling behind, inactive utilizing pictures successful a traditional, often cliched way.

McCabe became a big, superb portion of the Guardian’s “modern, newsy, busy” redesign, winning representation exertion of the twelvemonth a grounds six times.

His 3rd enactment was arsenic a representation photographer, including memorable series of writers successful the rooms wherever they wrote and artists successful their studios.

Zadie Smith pictured circa 2015.
Zadie Smith pictured circa 2015. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

Some of those are successful the National Portrait Gallery collection, fantastic images of artists including Bridget Riley, Chris Ofili, Paula Rego and Frank Auerbach.

Fiona Shields, the Guardian’s caput of photography, described McCabe arsenic “the godfather of photojournalism”.

“He truly acceptable a modular and near a bequest that we each travel and are truly arrogant to follow. He was besides an incredibly benignant idiosyncratic with astonishing bully humour. He was ever afloat of anecdotes and warmth.”

Roger Tooth, who succeeded McCabe arsenic Guardian representation editor, joked that some of them agreed that taking pictures and moving the representation table was “so overmuch amended than working”.

He said: “Eamonn was a superb lensman and representation exertion with a earthy endowment for capturing oregon identifying the antithetic oregon unseen. With his earthy warmth helium was ever an encouraging beingness wherever helium was.”

McCabe was besides a predominant talker astir photography, wrote respective books and was progressive successful a fig of tv series, including Britain successful Focus for BBC Four.

He is survived by Smithers and their daughter, Mabel, and his son, Ben, by a erstwhile marriage.

McCullin said McCabe was similar each large photographers – helium ne'er stopped working. His woman said agreed. “Only 2 weeks agone helium was photographing Aldeburgh rugby club. No occupation was excessively large oregon small.”