Chief of the General Staff Sir David Richards today praised the army's amateur and professional photographers, telling them their pictures are more important today than ever.

Rifleman HubbardPicture: This image by Rifleman Hubbard helped him scoop The Amateur Photographer of the Year title in this year’s Army Photographic Competition

Photo: Crown Copyright

Chief of the General Staff Sir David Richards today praised the army’s amateur and professional photographers, telling them their pictures are more important today than ever.

Announcing the winners of the 2009 Army Photographic Competition, the British Army chief stressed that photographs from battlegrounds such as Afghanistan are a crucial way of communicating the ‘role of the army’ to the public back home.

‘Digital communication has transformed the way we fight wars,’ he told guests at a presentation ceremony held at the Imperial War Museum in London.

‘Photography is even more important today and is part of our campaign,’ he said, adding that digital photos can be distributed worldwide at the ‘press of a button’.

‘It is a very important thing that you do. Getting those images back is hugely important but is not easy,’ he admitted.

‘As an amateur I have particular regard for your profession,’ he told the audience of serving army personnel and invited guests.

Speaking to Amateur Photographer after the ceremony Sir David said he has a keen interest in photography and once had a darkroom while based in Germany during his early career.

The 2009 awards included Best Operational Image, sponsored by Amateur Photographer magazine.

The Amateur category was won by Captain Mazzei for a picture entitled ‘Compound Searching’, captured while on deployment in Afghanistan.

Captain Mazzei told us he used a Sony Alpha 200 digital SLR for his winning shot.

And he explained that photography plays an important role in allowing him to focus on something away from the hardships of life far from home.

Meanwhile, Rifleman Hubbard, a member of the Territorial Army who works for BT, was crowned Amateur Photographer of the Year. He captured his winning shots while serving in Helmand Province, using a Fujfifilm S3 Pro DSLR.

However, the rigours of army life took their toll on the camera and he has just replaced it with a Nikon D300S.

Away from the war-zone the 31-year-old described Helmand as a ‘beautiful place’, giving plenty of opportunity for enjoying photography in his spare time.

The award for Best Overall Image went to Corporal O’Neill and was made in memory of Corporal Mike Gilyeat, a 28-year-old who was killed on his first assignment as a ‘news photographer’ in 2007.

Sergeant Forsyth bagged the Professional Photographer of the Year title. He said: ‘Army photographers have unique access to the military and are able to capture many events that highlight the role and contribution of the army.’

Image of the YearThe Best Overall Image, captured by Corporal O’Neill Photo: Crown Copyright

Group shot including army chiefPictured left to right: Captain Mazzei (Amateur winner Best Operational Image), Chief of the General Staff Sir David Richards, and Rifleman Hubbard, a member of the Territorial Army (Amateur Photographer of the Year winner) Photo credit: Damien Demolder

Compound Search

Photo credit (above): Crown Copyright The 2009 awards included Best Operational Image (above) which was sponsored by Amateur Photographer magazine. The Amateur category was won by Captain Mazzei for a picture entitled ‘Compound Searching’, which he captured while on deployment in Afghanistan. Capt Mazzei, who is passionate about photography, is pictured below speaking to AP news editor Chris Cheesman earlier today.

Photo credit: Damien Demolder