'Savage Beauty' - the award-winning photograph by Michael McLaughlin.

Westport photographer celebrates national award win

A MAYO photographer is celebrating after winning a prestigious Press Photographers Association of Ireland (PPAI) award.

Westport freelancer Michael McLaughlin won first prize in the Arts and Entertainment category with the image 'Savage Beauty', which was captured on the shores of Lough Na Fuaiche on the Mayo/Galway border in Connemara for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture.

His achievement was lauded at a Westport-Belmullet Municipal District meeting yesterday (Monday), where Councillor Christy Hyland proposed a vote of congratulations.

Commented the adjudicators on his winning image: “Quite simply, wow. What a shot! A creative image paying homage to the equally creative light installation itself. The composition and extremely creative choice to shoot it as a long exposure to bring a stillness to the water make this a worthy winner.

“It’s one thing making a good shot from a great assignment, but something else to make an exceptional picture.”

Photographer Michael McLaughlin. Photographer: Michael Mc Laughlin

Said Michael: “I’ve been a professional photographer for over twenty years, working both locally, nationally and internationally, and to win this award from the Press Photographers Association of Ireland is a fantastic honour, and to have captured a moment in time in the west of Ireland that will live on in the history books of Ireland's visual record.

“The image is a combination of my love of landscape, social documentary and night photography.”

He also extended congratulations to Mayo colleague Keith Heneghan whose work was also highly commended in this year's News category and will also form part of the collection.

Now in their 43rd year, the PPAI Awards this year have an added poignancy and resonance, reflecting and recording a truly momentous year in the history of the State.

Nobody could have predicted, at the start of 2020, the cataclysmic impact that the Covid-19 pandemic would have on Irish lives and society but, as ever, the members of the PPAI have fulfilled their role, producing an indelible record which will form part of the national visual archive.

Over the years this showcase of the finest Irish press photography has travelled across the globe and been displayed in Irish festivals in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Paris, Brussels and Warsaw, enjoyed by millions of viewers over four decades of touring. It is also a regular visitor to festivals, libraries and locations around Ireland.

Spanning nine categories, including News, Daily Life, Nature and Environment, Sport, Portrait, Politics, Arts and Entertainment and Reportage, this collection of winning and short-listed photographs provides a fascinating window into Ireland through 2020.

The Press Photographers Association of Ireland, the PPAI, is a not-for-profit, volunteer-lead organisation with a membership drawn from across Ireland's four provinces.

The Association is dedicated to showcasing the extraordinary work produced by its members, comprising the country's finest exponents of their craft, and to promoting the role of the press photographer in building the nation's visual historical record.

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