Cathal McNaughton

Cathal McNaughton

Based
Delhi, India
Born
Cushendall, Northern Ireland
Status
Photographer
“Some of my favourite images have been taken within a few miles of my house. Pictures are all around us, every day, waiting to be photographed. We just need to open our eyes and minds to see them.”

Beat

I am the only Reuters photographer in Ireland, so I cover everything from international sporting events, to the economic crisis, to civil unrest.

One Shot

. CARNLOUGH, United Kingdom. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
A duck, pheasants and rabbits hang from a clothes line before being plucked, skinned and frozen at Garron Point near the village of Carnlough in Northern Ireland.
“I was on my way home from a political assignment in Belfast, when I spotted a clothes line at the back of a house with rabbits and birds hanging from it. I loved the way it was obviously completely normal for this hunter to hang up game next to towels and pillowcases, but to me it looked slightly bizarre. I love to capture quirky aspects of everyday life.”

Profile

The annual Christmas portrait – that’s my earliest memory of photography. Growing up in the early eighties we didn’t have a lot of money and my parents would line us up on Christmas morning for a picture. Film was expensive to develop so they only took a couple of shots each year.

A family friend named Brendan Murphy, the then picture editor of the “Irish News”, was researching a book in Glens of Antrim where I lived. Brendan told me if I wanted to be a photographer I should ring him. The day after I got my GCSE results I called him and he told me to come in and start as an apprentice. I started right at the bottom, sweeping the floor in the dark room - probably quite a different experience from my colleagues who went to art college!

During my first weeks at the “Irish News” I got to go to riots and shootings but never unaccompanied, as I was only 16. After a year, Brendan gave me my first bit of responsibility - photographing the bottle of wine for the weekly wine column! Sounds easy, but Brendan was a hard taskmaster. I was sent back over and over again to retake the photo until he decided it was fit for publication. A lesson in patience!

One of my first solo assignments was the aftermath of the Omagh bombing. It was incredibly intense and the scale of the atrocity - 29 people died plus two unborn children - was hard to grasp. As a relative newcomer to the industry, I could see that even the older, hardened news photographers were deeply affected by what they were seeing. I took a simple black and white picture of a young boy at one of the funerals wiping away a tear. It was used as a wraparound in the paper I worked for and sparked a lot of debate and interest.

I enjoy anything where I am given a free reign to illustrate the subject matter. I enjoy the freedom and creativity.

I try to imagine what people will think in 20 years time when they look at my images. I want my pictures to still be relevant and stand the test of time.

Learning how to read situations and judge the mood of a crowd has been my biggest lesson. Covering civil unrest, it is vital to know when to take a step back or move into the middle of things.

I have great respect for my wife because she has to put up with the rollercoaster of emotions that is living with a photographer! Photography-wise, I have great admiration for my mentor Brendan Murphy. Some of the defining images of The Troubles in Northern Ireland are his.

I have realised that you don’t need to fly to exotic locations for months on end to find and take great pictures. Some of my favourite images have been taken within a few miles of my house. Pictures are all around us, every day, waiting to be photographed. We just need to open our eyes and minds to see them.

Behind the Scenes

. SPARTA, Greece. Phoevos Duodonis
Cathal McNaughton stands atop the back of a pick-up truck as he shoots a feature about a goat farmer near the town of Sparta in Greece.