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photo: Mr Martin Argles, The Guardian (Photo Essay and SABMiller Photographer of the Year 2010)
photo: Jason Howe (UK Guild of Picture Editors' Photo Essay and SABMiller Photographer of the Year 2012)

2012 main awards winners

SAB Miller Photographer of the year - Jason Howe

SAB Miller photographer of the year was awarded to freelance photographer Jason Howe

During his first visit to Afghanistan in 2004 Jason witnessed the country's first ever democratic election and fell somewhat in love with the rugged country and its tenacious population.

In early summer 2007 Jason relocated to Kabul, Afghanistan and was soon embedded with British forces in Helmand, Afghanistan's most volatile province. He joined the men of the 1st Battalion Royal Anglians in the Sangin valley and at the Kajaki dam. Over the next four and half years Jason was regularly alongside British troops in the southern provinces of the country. He documented the fighting patrols they conduct on a daily basis to disrupt Taliban activity and deny the enemy the chance to strengthen their hold on the local population. He covered many operations including airborne assaults with the Parachute Regiment, long range desert patrols with 16 Brigade's BRF (Brigade Reconnaissance Force) and during 2011 a series of operations with 1PWRR (Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment) accompanied by elements of the 3SCOTS (The Black Watch). During one of these actions Jason was with a small group of soldiers clearing a compound when an IED exploded severely wounding a soldier a few meters away from him. The soldier lost both his legs to the blast and was CASEVAC'd under fire. Many months after the incident Jason was able to visit the soldier in hospital in the UK and the images of him are published with his express permission.

Other assignments took the photographer to Paktika province on the Pakistan border to join US forces in their operations against insurgent forces and to Tora Bora, Osama Bin Laden's old mountain hideout. He also covered subjects related to education and healthcare including the work of an NGO who provide cardiac surgery to Afghan children. General reportage and commercial assignments led Jason to travel widely throughout the country returning many times to places like Bamiyan, Herat, Mazar e Sharif, Jalalabad and the Panjshir valley and he worked in some 15 provinces in total.

Most recently Jason traveled along Highway One with Afghan NDS Special Forces for both an assignment about the road, generally reckoned to be the most dangerous in the world and to visit a local militia who have risen up against the Taliban.

Although no longer living in Kabul Jason still travels to Afghanistan and continues to undertake editorial, corporate and travel assignments for broad range of UK, European and US newspapers and magazines.

The winning set of pictures for uk pictures editors guild SAB Miller press photographer of the year tell the story of Private Stephen Bainbridge, aged 25, from Kirkcaldy A soldier with 3 SCOTS (The Black Watch) gravely wounded in a compound after an IED explosion which traumatically amputated his right leg and damaged his left so badly that it to later be amputated.

His life was saved by the swift actions of Cpl John Goodie (21) a medic with 1 PWRR (The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment) who applied tourniquets and first field dressings to get the bleeding under control. Private Chris Watson (21) also assisted in the treatment whilst reassuring the casualty and keeping him alert and responsive.

Once he had been stabilized the men CASEVAC'd Private Bainbridge to the MERT helicopter and he was rushed to Bastion Field Hospital

Mr John Sibley (Action Images)
John has worked as a staffer with Action Images since 1991. The Enfield, north London-based photographer mainly specialises in football and has now covered five European Championships and four World Cup finals.

Highly commended
Andrew Boyers:
Andrew has worked for Action Images since 2006 and worked on sporting events from the Subbuteo World Cup to the FIFA World Cup Finals. This summer he also covered the Euros, The Open and the Olympics.

Ian MacNicol:
Ian is a freelance sports photographer based in Glasgow. He works both home and abroad and has covered the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Champions League Finals.

David Ramos:
David has a photography degree at the Catalonia Technical University and now works as a freelancer for Getty Images based in Barcelona. He covers mainly sport and news events.

Finalists: Stefan Wermuth, Colm Lenagahn

Mr Max Mumby
Max is a freelance photographer who says he’ll be ‘amazed’ if he wins... ‘I’m 36, working freelance since 1998 and specialise (in the loosest sense of the word!) in the Royal Family,’ says the Surrey-based photographer.

Highly commended
Carl Court:
Carl is a freelance photographer with Agence France-Presse. He has been based in London for several years and began his career working for the Hackney Gazette.

Geoff Pugh:
Geoff is a freelance photographer with The Daily Telegraph and says: ‘I’m proud to do this job, alongside other dedicated photographers. We do it because we care about the pictures and telling the story.’

Paul Edwards:
Essex-based photographer Paul has worked in Fleet Street for the last 25 years for two national newspapers - Today and The Sun.

Finalist: Rupert Hartley

Mr Jon Enoch (Jon Enoch)
Jon is a London-based portrait photographer who mainly works for The Times. He started his career at local newspapers before moving to London.

Highly commended
Dave Benett:
Dave has worked for the London Evening Standard for more than 25 years. ‘Every year is getting better and better,’ he says.

Richard Cannon:
Richard is a freelance photographer who came up with the idea to shoot Britain’s top comedians in the same Ozwald Boateng white suit to raise money for Comic Relief.

James Glossop:
This is the second category that photographer James has been nominated for. He works in Scotland for The Times and covers a mixture of news, features and sport.

Finalist: Rune Hellestad

Mr Jason Alden (Bloomberg News)
Jason is a freelance photographer. The Londoner studied photojournalism at Norton college, Sheffield. He began freelancing in 2007 and now works for Bloomberg News and The Independent on Sunday

Highly commended
Richard Cannon:
Richard is an award-winning freelance photographer who works for magazines and is based in London.

Lewis Whyld:
Lewis works for The Press Association and is based in London

Oliver Scarff:
This is the second nomination this year for Oliver, who covers news and features in south-east England as well as foreign assignments for Getty Images.

Finalists: Simon Dawson, Christopher Ratcliffe

Mr Brad Wakefield (South West News Service)
Brad worked for South West News Service from 2008. In June this year the 27-year-old moved to Manchester to work as a freelance for The Sun.

Highly commended
David Hedges:
David, 22, works for South West News Service, covering news and features for national newspapers.

James Dadzitis:
James is a photographer with South West News Service, based in Plymouth, Devon. The 26-year-old started his career as a staff photographer for the Western Gazette in 2007.

Adam Gerrard:
Adam is a photographer with South West News Service and mainly covers news features and portrait assignments in the Midlands. The 25-year-old is regularly commissioned by The Times.

Finalists: Robert Binder, Justin Tallis

Mr Dan Kitwood (Getty Images)
Dan works for Getty Images and really hoped he’d take the top spot this year. ‘I would be very happy indeed to have been recognised for my hard work and commitment,’ he says. ‘I came close last year but hopefully can go that one step closer this year.’

Highly commended
Oliver Scarff:
Oliver is a staff photographer with Getty Images, based in London. He covers news and features in south-east England as well as taking on foreign assignments.

James Glossop:
James works for The Times and is based in Edinburgh. He covers news, features and sport.

Peter Macdiarmid:
Peter works for Getty Images. He started on London weekly newspapers in 1987 before working his way up to The Independent, the Daily Telegraph and Reuters before joining Getty in 2005.

Finalists: Neil Hall, Christopher Furlong

Mr Charles McQuillan (Pacemaker Press International)
Charles is a photographer with Belfast-based picture agency Pacemaker. He is the current Northern Ireland photographer of the year and also the holder of the Press Photographer’s Year picture of the year award.

Highly commended
Anthony Chappel-Ross:
Anthony has spent nine of his 11 years as a photographer with The Press in York. The 29-year-old won the regional award last year and said: ‘I would love to retain my crown!’

Stephen Garnett:
Stephen works for the Craven Herald in the Yorkshire Dales. His editor Adrian Braddy said: ‘The Craven Herald patch is sparsely populated, with limited photo opportunities. Each week he produces a remarkable array of pictures that are an editor’s dream. Stephen always conjures up eye-catching shots.’

William Cherry:
William works for Presseye and has been based in Northern Ireland for more than 25 years, covering news and sport.

Finalists: Simon Hulme, Nick Ponty

Mr Jason Howe
Jason is a freelance photographer who has spent ten years specialising in conflict coverage, documenting wars in Latin America, the Middle East and Central and South-East Asia. The images in this essay were taken on Armistice Day - November 11, 2011 - when Private Stephen Bainbridge lost both legs to an improvised bomb in Nad Ali, Helmand, Afghanistan. After photographing the aftermath and the medics working to save Stephen’s life, Jason then helped carry his stretcher to a helicopter landing zone for evacuation while taking fire from insurgents.He then pressured the MoD for six months to be granted access to Stephen, who gave permission for the photographs to be published - against the wishes of defence bosses.
At first light on Armistice Day 2011 British troops are dropped by helicopter deep inside Taliban country in southern Afghanistan. Within an hour one soldier would lose both his legs to an IED and his fellow soldiers would have to carry him to safety under fire from insurgent sharpshooters. Pte Stephen Bainbridge survived his injuries and is still undergoing extensive treatment in the UK.

Highly commended
Lucy Ray:
A former regional press photographer, Lucy now works at the Daily Mail and is also a video journalist. For this assignment she joined a group of British vets as they travelled to Cameroon to operate on a gorilla called Shufai. The ape was rescued ten years ago by charity Ape Action Africa, after he had been shot in the wrist when poachers murdered his mother. The wrist never healed properly, so the vets flew out to perform the difficult operation in the jungle.

Mary Turner:
Mary is a London-based freelance photographer. Her essay on the travellers of Dale Farm began in 2009, three years before their eviction. She spent months helping with tasks like reading and writing letters before families accepted her. Her difficulty was portraying the challenges and prejudices faced by travellers, while trying not to exploit her relationship with them during the eviction. ‘I think if you don’t understand or care for the people you’re photographing, you won’t really communicate anything through your work,’ she says.

Lewis Whyld:
Lewis works for The Press Association and got his series of shots at last summer’s riots. In Tottenham, he saw another photographer grabbed and hospitalised by a mob who smashed all his kit. After seeing two more colleagues beaten and robbed he then used a social networking group to warn others. Over the following days he covered riots in Tottenham, Enfield, Hackney, Brixton and Croydon, despite the danger of mob attacks, having his kit smashed, missiles, fires, falling buildings - and car-jackings.

Finalists: Andrew Parsons, Edmond Terakopian