Irish Times photographer Alan Betson won first prize in the Reportage category and was named Photographer of the Year for his portfolio at this year's Press Photographers' Association of Ireland awards.
Betson’s first prize for Reportage was awarded for his stunning montage of the Dublin Liffy Swim 2014, but the action was nearly missed altogether.
"It nearly didn’t happen!" Betson said. "15 minutes before the race was due to start there was no sign of the press boat. The start of the Liffey swim was over 3km away from where we were standing beside the Jeanie Johnston. Take a taxi, jump on a bicycle or simply run were the options flashing through our minds. Thankfully, in true Irish style, the boat was late and the race start was late. As luck would have it a flock of swans were about to have a blissful afternoon, lolling around, disturbed by over 300 energetic swimmers."
Capturing the perfect shot is more than luck and timing - it's knowing how people work and being ready for their reactions. "Most of what we do as press photographers is all about prediction. Guessing what will happen next and being ready for it. A little bit of psychology helps, as you read personalities, people and gauge the mood," Betson explained.
"The portfolio of pictures I submitted for the 2015 Press Photographers Association of Ireland Awards had a little bit of everything. The euphoric celebration on Ireland’s triumphant Six Nations champions returning to Dublin airport and at Paul Murphy’s by-election win. The dejection of the evicted Coyne couple still in their dressing gown at the courts. The incredibly talented Irish dancers and magic floating raindrops at the Science gallery.
"Skin crawling snakes at Smithfield, a marriage proposal at the airport, a proud son’s moment with his father on the pitch at Croke Park which I am sure will have a life lasting effect on him. There was history in the making as President of Ireland Michael D Higgins met the Queen. The President did mention the picture with “the tall Guards” to me after presenting the PPAI awards to the winning photographers. Yes President, Ehhh Sorry about that!"