Eamonn McCabe – a kind and gifted Guardian photographer | Letters

Rosie Christmas, Jo West and Phil Murray on his striking images and generosity towards aspiring photographers

I was saddened to read of the death of Eamonn McCabe (Report, 3 October). I was lucky enough to meet him at a time when he was seen as the top sports photographer in the UK. During the latter half of the 1980s, I ran a visual arts touring exhibition service on Merseyside that took contemporary artworks into alternative venues – schools, libraries, shops, offices etc.

At the opening of a newly refurbished section of the Albert Dock complex, some of Eamonn’s most iconic sports images were on display. A few of us from Merseyside Arts were invited along and Eamonn was there. As a keen amateur photographer, I’d always loved his pictures, so I plucked up my courage to tell him and also to ask if he’d consider letting us tour his work.

He gave me his phone number and asked me to call him to make the arrangements for a tour. I was delighted that someone that famous could be so approachable and generous. He lent us several large prints mounted on hardboard, plus a set of laminated panels. Unsurprisingly, this show proved immensely popular, attracting bookings all over Merseyside.

So imagine how I felt after a call from one venue, a sports centre on the Wirral, to say that one of the laminated panels – a picture of Marvin Hagler – had been stolen.

I dreaded phoning Eamonn to tell him. But when I did, he said, “I’m flattered that someone liked my work enough to want to steal it”, laughed, and told me not to worry. He was a great photographer and truly a kind, understanding and generous man.
Rosie Christmas

England v Australia at Lords, 1977.
England v Australia at Lords, 1977. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

• I had the privilege of working in the Guardian’s advertising sales force in the late 80s, when Eamonn McCabe had just been appointed as picture editor. In those days, everyone on the sales floor regarded the editorial team as nothing short of gods.

Eamonn was thoughtful and unassuming. He enjoyed taking traditionally understood visual tropes and putting them into a new context. I remember him insisting that readers were far more visually literate than most editors gave them credit for.

One year, he derived singular enjoyment from a beautifully crafted photograph of the chancellor of the time, shot from an angle that made the famous red dispatch box look tiny. I have forgotten who the chancellor was, but I’ll never forget Eamonn’s wise and witty take on the important role of photographs in all narratives. I am very sorry indeed that you have lost such a cherished colleague.
Jo West
Virginia Water, Surrey

The English performance artist John Hegley, circa 2008.
The English performance artist John Hegley, circa 2008. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/The Guardian

• I have followed Eamonn McCabe’s career with interest and admiration over the past 40 years, having briefly encountered him when he asked for directions from Glasgow’s Mount Florida train station to the press entrance at Hampden Park, where he was covering a Scotland game in 1979.

In the course of a five-minute chat, he generously provided a couple of technical tips to this very amateur photography enthusiast, while also recounting, in his self-deprecating manner, how he hoped that night to avoid repeating his failure to capture Kenny Dalglish’s spectacular winning goal against Wales the previous year.

He had been caught out changing film at the critical moment, resulting in “the mother and father of reprimands” on his return to the office. RIP a hugely talented, consummate professional, but also a genuinely nice guy.
Phil Murray
Linlithgow, West Lothian

Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication.


The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Guardian and Observer photographer Eamonn McCabe dies aged 74
Tributes paid to one of the most celebrated newspaper photographers and picture editors of his generation

Mark Brown

03, Oct, 2022 @3:02 PM

Article image
Solidarity between photographic friends | Letters
Letters: Romano Cagnoni had some ingenious ways of smuggling cameras, writes Noel Chanan, whose wife, picture editor June Stanier, worked with the photojournalist


04, Apr, 2018 @5:35 PM

Article image
Proud to be Guardian readers | Brief letters
Brief letters: Kevin Towers admires the work of Guardian journalists and Brian Edwards was recommended the paper in 1955 and has read it ever since. Also, Ian Ferguson got the newspaper’s name wrong in an interview but still used it to his advantage


09, May, 2021 @3:45 PM

Article image
Composting success with Guardian wrap | Brief letters
Brief letters: Biodegradable potato-starch bags | Fossil fuel advertising | Marmalade | Sponges and loofahs


31, Jan, 2020 @5:24 PM

Article image
Celebrating 200 years of the Guardian | Letter
Letter: Dean J Hill salutes ‘one of the last bastions of quality journalism with independence’


04, May, 2021 @4:04 PM

Article image
Superlative Guardian reading that lasts a lifetime | Brief letters
Brief letters: The paper’s best predictions? | A twist of front-page fate | The Guardian Readers and Elton John | Ringing out the bells for 200 years


14, May, 2021 @4:02 PM

Article image
Hooked on the Guardian for seven decades | Letter
Letters: John Newton on how a teacher’s passing comment instilled in him the habit of a lifetime


07, Aug, 2020 @3:31 PM

Article image
Credit where it’s due to Guardian writers | Letters
Letters: Readers congratulate the Guardian on its multiple nominations for outstanding journalism in 2018


07, Nov, 2018 @6:23 PM

Article image
A sad goodbye to my Guardian toaster | Brief letters
Brief letters: Guardian goodies | Weirdest meals | Butcher’s dog | Hamelldaeme | Argate


08, Oct, 2020 @4:22 PM

Article image
Graduating and coming out with the Guardian | Letters
Letters: Roger Bardell finds a Guardian reference from Arnold Bennett, Molly Pollitt discovered her copy at the students’ union, Stuart Britton remembers coming out on the letters page, and Dr Christine Kent is relieved to have her print copy back


12, May, 2021 @3:39 PM