PA photographers choose their top pictures of 2023

It has been a huge year for those behind the lens.
King Charles III is crowned (Victoria Jones/PA)
PA Archive
Ted Hennessey4 minutes ago

A new King was crowned in a year of huge events captured by photographers at the PA news agency.

Here they choose their favourite images of 2023 and the stories behind them:

– A King is crowned

Victoria Jones captured the moment King Charles was crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in Westminster Abbey. The images were shared around the world.

She said: “We needed to ensure that the moment that the King was crowned by the Archbishop was covered by every angle of our cameras, but without a single photographer visible.

“This meant that, for 14 days straight before the day, myself and colleague Aaron Crown, along with our old picture editor Martin Keene, spent 12-hour days inside Westminster Abbey in order to set up eight remote cameras dotted in various places around the Coronation Chair.

“For two weeks I crawled through decades-old dust beneath the Abbey floorboards, dangled on a harness from the altar and battled through dense floral arrangements, surviving on a diet of Pret sandwiches, all whilst being surrounded by priceless religious artefacts, in order to lay over one mile of cabling around the Abbey that would enable us to remotely operate our cameras from behind a wall, out of sight of the congregation.”

– Coronation Chair

Jonathan Brady was in the Abbey on May 6 to photograph the King in the Coronation Chair wearing St Edward’s Crown.

Mr Brady said: “The historic significance that our photos were about to have when we started the day certainly lent to an intense pressure to deliver, and it was a delight to see this image amongst others produced by my PA photo colleagues do so well in the following day’s papers and websites.

“Although I have a selection of favourite images from that day, including an image of the very coronation moment, this one still resonates the most with me.

“I think it’s because it demonstrates the pomp and grandness of the occasion, backdropping the central role of the monarchy throughout the centuries, and lends a sense to the intense focus directed upon one man on the day he always knew would come.”Prince Louis steals the show

Prince Louis grabbed everyone’s attention alongside his siblings and parents during his grandfather’s coronation service and Yui Mok was there to photograph it.

Mr Mok said: “Amongst all the moments during the two-hour ceremony – the arrival of the various members of the royal family, the sanctity of the anointing, the crownings of the King and the Queen, the overall pomp and circumstance of the service – it was the sight of Prince Louis yawning that stole the show for me!”

– Princess Charlotte waves

As rain poured outside the church, Joe Giddens was in position to take a picture of Princess Charlotte waving from a carriage.

Mr Giddens said: “As the carriages pulled away at the end of the coronation, I picked out the one carrying the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children.

“I was hoping to get a nice shot of the children but trying to capture an image inside a moving vehicle, shooting through rain and the carriage window is never easy! I fired away and as I did, I noticed that for a split second Princess Charlotte had looked in my direction, smiled and waved!

“Had I got the shot? Was it in focus? Once the carriages had left I looked back through my pictures and was really pleased to see that not only had I captured that moment but it also looked as if Princess Charlotte was looking directly at me!

“The eye contact, the natural smile and the look on Prince George’s face – they look comfortable and very relaxed despite it being a very high pressure day for everyone involved.”

– Ceremony for a King

Aaron Chown was also among the team of PA snappers inside Westminster Abbey during the service.

Mr Chown said: “King Charles III’s coronation marked the first crowning of a British monarch since the invention of digital cameras. It was a momentous event to be part of and to capture in images.

“The particular image stands out as my top pick, thanks to the vibrant colours and pageantry of the event captured in the frame.”

– Russell Brand

James Manning pictured Russell Brand leaving Troubabour Wembley Park theatre in north-west London shortly after allegations about the comedian’s sexual behaviour.

Mr Manning said: “Walking out, the pitch-black night erupted into strobes of flashes left and right, the whole sequence only lasting seconds. While I held down the shutter button I could only hope everything went to plan. Just when I thought it was over, a light in the van gently lit up his face, I rushed to adjust my exposure before getting the picture seen.

“Days following, this picture and others in my set were everywhere, filling all the front pages and articles all over. It was a sigh of relief and the satisfaction was worth every second.”

– Amur leopard cub

Danny Lawson waited hours at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster to see Auckley, the only surviving Amur leopard cub born in the European breeding programme in 2023.

When the cub emerged with her mother Kristen, Mr Lawson pounced to capture the moment.

Mr Lawson said: “After what seemed like an eternity, the cub and her mother tentatively made their way down a narrow passage linking their housing to the enclosure. They stopped moments before stepping out into open view.

“The image seen here is shot on an extremely powerful telephoto lens. It was taken from the far side of the leopard enclosure looking into the narrow passage where Auckley and her mother had stopped. The photograph has been cropped to add more impact and draw the viewer into the image.

“I only managed to take a couple of photographs before the leopards turned around and returned to their house. They were not seen again for several more hours.”

– Princess of Wales in Scotland

Jane Barlow captured Kate during a service of thanksgiving and dedication for the King and Queen at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Ms Barlow said: “The inside of the cathedral is very dark, however there was a magical moment at the start of the service where a shaft light, like a spotlight,  just seemed to come from nowhere and perfectly illuminated the Princess of Wales.”

– High Court Harry

Jordan Pettitt acted quickly to picture the Duke of Sussex’s surprise High Court arrival in March.

Mr Pettitt said: “I managed to break away from the pack as the Duke of Sussex turned the corner and caught this fleeting moment as he smirks and strolls into the court for the start of the case.

“This shot and others I got from the Duke of Sussex’s impromptu entrance made the front page and inside spreads of the following day’s newspapers.

“I’m particularly pleased with this frame as it marked the start of a landmark court appearance for the prince and it showcases a rare moment of calm amid the frenzy of his entrance.”

– Horse racing At Lingfield

Zac Goodwin was in the right place at the right time to capture a runner and rider competing at Lingfield Park Racecourse.

Mr Goodwin said: “I always aim to get something a little different at a horse racing meeting. After spending the first few races with bland, flat lighting I had almost admitted defeat, feeling as though it would be pretty hard to make anything unique with the conditions overhead.

“As the final race was about to take place, the clouds began to break. With a shot in mind after eyeing up an angle from the previous races, I made my way over to the ideal position.

“The horses made their way to post with the backdrop of the setting sun slowly fading. As expected, the light started to fade as the race began and the disappointment started to set in. I stuck in position in the hope that the light would leak out during the final lap.

“As the horses ran along the final straight, I was gifted with a momentary break of sun, providing me with the perfect opportunity to silhouette the horses against the orange burst.”

– Back flip

Martin Rickett picked out his image of Blackburn’s Tyrhys Dolan celebrating after scoring against Blackpool in the Sky Bet Championship in February.

Mr Rickett said: “I like this picture because it is very different to most goal celebrations in football, as Tyrhys used his athleticism to perform a back flip. I’ve caught a split-second moment as he looks like he’s levitating, suspended in the air.”

– Disruption at the Crucible

Mike Egerton photographed Just Stop Oil protesters stopping play early in the evening session at the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield in April.Mr Egerton said: “It all unfolded so quickly during the first frame of the evening session in the match between Robert Milkins and Joe Perry. Luckily for me I was on the right table as there was another match taking place at the same time.

“A man just appeared from the front row and climbed on to the table and emptied a bag of orange powder all over the baize. The whole incident lasted no more than 10 seconds before he was dragged off by security guards.

“Thankfully I was in the correct position with the right lens as I would have had no time to change. The one thing that sticks with me is the protester smiling at me as he is being dragged away.”

– Treble winners

Manchester City finally won the Champions League, completing their treble. The trophy lift was captured by Nick Potts.

Mr Potts said: “I just like the faces on the Manchester City players as all their life’s dreams are just held for few seconds in their faces as they win the biggest club trophy in the world while the manager Pep, who has won this trophy so many times already, looks so calm and just happy for everyone else. ”

– European glory

John Walton photographed golfer Carlota Ciganda’s celebrations after Team Europe retained the Solheim Cup

Mr Walton said: “The reason for selecting this image is because I like how it shows the intense emotion on her face as she celebrates wildly. Team Europe sealed an improbable result to retain the Solheim cup.

“Golf is not something I photograph often. For me personally it was fabulous to witness the changing emotions of both teams on that final day of competition.

“The excitement of the fans as the drama worked its way to the climax.”