I’ve got SUN-shine (on a cloudy day)

It was a little disconcerting to turn up at the SUN awards exhibition knowing that you have an image included in the exhibition and it be notable by it’s absence. Then you see five images that are covered up and there’s a little flutter. So I was a little gobsmacked to find out I’d won “Best Image” especially as it was the prestigious awards’ 25th birthday. When I consider the caliber of the talent on display to say I’m honoured is an understatement so thank you to the judges for choosing my image.


The image was taken in Nouadibou, Mauritania, en route to Freetown, Sierra Leone. I was part of a twenty four strong team driving from Hull to it’s twin town in Western Africa, on the Hull Freedom Trail – a documentary by Claudio von Planta of Long Way Round fame is available here. It was not posed, it just happened and I captured what I saw. But sometimes things happen because a guy is sat there with a big camera. For me this image tells a story of travel, the unwashed window, the scraped fingermarks add a certain tension, I gripped my comfort blanket of a camera as he stared at me.

I guess the cloudy reference was prompted by the subject of the image. The trip was all about slavery, past and present and the face in this shot was one of many that gazed into my privileged position in our air-conditioned Mitsubishi L200. I don’t know the story of this boy, I do know that many who hang around road junctions are “owned” by a local Marabout, think Fagin without the soft focus.

I shot many images on this expedition using the car window as a frame or just shooting out of the window. When I wasn’t driving I usually had my camera on my lap, the image below of the Berber sat next to the fire was shot from a moving vehicle, I just had time to wind the window down and shoot two frames, the bus was more considered but took several attempts to get the look I wanted.

For information about the SUN awards and to see the other finalists click here.


sun comp

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5 comments in “I’ve got SUN-shine (on a cloudy day)”

  1. John Redhead says:

    Well done Mark. Well deserved.

  2. Piers says:

    Love the image(s) Mark. A powerfully narrative image which conveys proximity/hope/aspiration yet separation/alienation/hostility. Well done on winning this award…

  3. Emma says:

    So well deserved Mark. Such a thought provoking image on so many levels.
    Many congratulations

  4. Angus McNee says:

    Well done Mark. Makes you feel good to enter these competitions and realise you’ve won, eh?
    I think you won because the ‘ayes’ have it! They really are piercing.

  5. Judith Dawson says:

    Wow Mark. This is just a fantastic image. It’s one of those photographs where you look and think “I wish I’d taken that”. What a beautiful face that child has and together with the composition – mind blowing! – you definitely deserve to be the winner. 🙂

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