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And the Lifetime Achievement Award for Photography goes to...

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At work: Tony Cordeiro on assignment for the Royal Gazette, always looking for that interesting photo.

The winner of the first ever Bermuda Lifetime Achievement Award for Photography said he never had much time for pretty pictures.Veteran photographer Tony Cordeiro, winner of the AFL Prism award given by the Bermuda Professional Photographic Association (BPPA) on Saturday at the Masterworks Museum, said: “Give me something that is moving and I will go and chase it. There were other photographers such as Roland Skinner who would spend hours out there waiting for a good sunset and shoot thousands of pictures until they got the one they liked. I could never do that.”Mr Cordeiro took photographs for The Royal Gazette for more than 30 years. During those years there was plenty to “chase” from Royals to rioters, fires, accidents and everything in between.Mr Cordeiro, 73, was first introduced to newspaper photography when he went to work for a local photographer, Henry DeSilva, who worked the hotel circuit in the 1960s, snapping pictures of hotel guests. Mr DeSilva would sometimes be asked to cover freelance assignments for The Royal Gazette. One day, he asked Mr Cordeiro to take his place.“My first assignment was going to Warwick Camp with reporter Betty Smith,” said Mr Cordeiro. “She was three times my age and we were crawling through the obstacle course with the soldiers.”He enjoyed the assignment so much, that he took on any other freelance assignments he could get with the newspaper. After working in the tourism industry for a few years, he started with the paper full time in 1972. Over the next three decades he would work with a wide range of cameras from Graflex Speed Graphic cameras, Rolleiflexs, and Hasselblads right up to modern digital cameras prior to his retirement.“I always said a good camera is the one that works, no fancy stuff,” said Mr Cordeiro, with a laugh. “We went from mixing chemicals right up to the digital age. I think some of the digital stuff takes the fun out of photography. I think the quality is the same, but it is still too soon to tell how long the pictures will last. I think it is remarkable that with these digital cameras there is nothing that you can’t do, which is frightening in our business. You can fake pictures.”He remembered one incident where a photographer was suspended after digitally superimposing a red cricket ball into a cricket game photo.“We got a call saying ‘you should know, on the Saturday, we played with a white ball’,” said Mr Cordeiro. “You have to be very honest with your pictures, that’s all there is to it.”One of his most memorable moments was photographing a pregnant Lady Diana, during a Royal visit to Bermuda in February 1982. At that time her pregnancy was just beginning to be visible, and the world was desperate for pictures of a pregnant Lady Diana. Mr Cordeiro received a telephone call from a New York photographic agency, promising him big money if he could come up with a picture of her beginning to show her pregnancy.“Sure enough there was a nice picture of her dress blowing back showing her stomach,” said Mr Cordeiro. “I called the man up, and he said ‘you catch the next plane out of there, I want that film’. I jumped on the plane with this little roll of film, I don’t even know if I had anything on it. I thought I was going to make a fortune and this was going to be my day. His secretary met me when I got off the plane. She said ‘quick, come’ and he was waiting on the other side to catch another plane to Germany. It was a German magazine that wanted this thing. She drove me to a hotel and said, ‘goodbye’.”Unfortunately, the next day Mr Cordeiro was scooped, when the royal couple went on to the Bahamas and Lady Diana was photographed in a bathing suit. Luckily, the photographic agency did pay for his plane ticket.But photographs he has taken over the years, such as photos of the 1977 riots in Bermuda were picked up by magazines such as Time Magazine. The unrest in Bermuda due to the hanging of Erskine “Buck” Burrows and Larry Tacklyn made for some interesting times to be a photographer.“The photo published in Time Magazine was of a car being turned over on Court Street,” said Mr Cordeiro. “The streets were mobbed at that time. At one point the police and army were coming down the street from one side and the people were coming down the street from the other. They were going to clash. There were a bunch of us on the porch of St Paul’s AME church on Court Street. We were sweating. If they ever clashed someone was going to get killed.”But the situation was saved by divine providence. Before the two factions could meet the heavens opened up and it began to pour with rain. People started to disperse.“Once in a while someone would throw a Molotov cocktail on the street,” said Mr Cordeiro. “People would kick it out of the way. In those days I was using one of those iron strobes to hold the flash and I had an extra one in my pocket. When it started to rain we were all squeezing in there (on the porch at St Paul’s) and this thing fell out of my pocket, boom, onto the concrete. Everyone thought it was a Molotov cocktail. We all hustled out of there. I wasn’t very popular when people realised it was my strobe.”Newspaper photography is not without its dangers. He was told to stick his camera where the sun doesn’t shine more often than he could count. At one point, when a crowd was waiting to hear if Burrows and Tacklyn would get a stay of execution, someone kicked his legs out from under him and he fell backwards.“I said we better keep quiet,” he said. “You can start a riot when you are doing things. You have to use your head sometimes. You have to study a situation before you jump in. It was tough at that time. I remember coming home late at night when curfews had been enforced. I almost cried because everything was completely deserted. Everywhere you looked there were police and soldiers. It made me sad to see the Island like that.”Mr Cordeiro was said to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He was also well liked and respected in the community, and people would often call him when something was going on. Over the years at The Royal Gazette he mentored not only photographers but also many journalists, because often in the field the photographer is the only guidance available to a green cub reporter. He was often known to tell a reporter who thought they had stumbled onto the scoop of the century,“I’ve already shot that person. We did the same story in 1974, 1988 and last week,” he said.He retired in 2004, and his keen eye and humour is still greatly missed at the newspaper.He was born in Rabo de Peixe, Sao Miguel, Azores, and came to Bermuda as a small child with his family. His father, Antonio, had already been living in Bermuda seven years, when the rest of the family was brought out.“Nobody wanted to come,” said Mr Cordeiro. “We had just finished building a home in the Azores. We had the best house on the street. At the last minute, my father decided we were coming over. My father spent 45 years working for the Corporation of Hamilton, most of that time working in the pumping station in Hamilton.“When he retired we (Mr Cordeiro and his family including siblings) accompanied my parents to the Azores, because we wanted to see our birthplace. When we got there, my father said he was not going back to Bermuda. Sadly, he suffered a massive stroke and died within three months of retiring.”Mr Cordeiro’s mother, Virginia, is still alive and going strong at 94-years-old. Mr Cordeiro and his wife Elizabeth have been married for 48 years and they have two grown sons, Mark and Anthony.

Mentor and his students: Photographers Tamell Simons (left) Stephen Raynor and David Skinner all learned their craft while workking under Tony Cordeiro at the Royal Gazette. Raynor was the first apprentice that Cordeiro took under his wing in the 1970s.
Honoured: Tony Cordeiro (right) stands with his grandsons (left to right) Brady, Christopher and Alec as he is honoured for his contribution to photography. Brothers Christopher and Alec made a surprise visit from New York to be a part of their grandfather's special night.