Capturing the ‘Made in Britain’ spirit

Posted on 22 Aug 2012

British manufacturing is dead. Nothing decent is made on British soil. These are the wildly inaccurate whisperings of scaremongers on this country’s streets. They are also the common misconceptions that the EEF Photography Awards are trying to challenge, as Kimberly Barber discovers.

The awards, run by the manufacturers’ organisation, and now in their third year, call for entrants from all walks of life. With separate categories for amateurs, professionals and young people, the competition hopes to attract photographs that represent the vast and varied production processes in the United Kingdom.

The competition is free to enter and shortlisted entrants will be welcomed to a prestigious awards ceremony held in December in Westminster. Along with the honour of receiving a national award, the winners will share £5000 to spend on new camera equipment.

Commenting on the awards programme EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler said: “There’s a boldness and beauty to British manufacturing that we’re looking to capture through stunning photography. Our aim is to give British manufacturing greater visibility and to challenge the myth that ‘Britain doesn’t make anything anymore’.”

This year’s theme, ‘Made in Britain’, was chosen to complement the Government’s Make it in Great Britain and See Inside Manufacturing campaigns. Business Minister Mark Prisk said: “Manufacturing is a creative and innovative industry. These awards help raise awareness of how interesting and dynamic the industry is, while tackling outdated perceptions. I wish all entrants the best of luck in the competition.”

Last year's winning entry in the amateur category. This hero is '5 Press' at Sheffield Forgemasters. This colossal 10,000 tonne open die forge has been operating for over 40 years and is still capable of producing some of the largest and most technically demanding forgings in the world today.

Last year’s winners

Last year’s theme ‘the heroes of modern manufacturing’ attracted hundreds of entries depicting everything from the very early stages of design right up to the finished product in operation. The winning images were chosen by a panel of experts for their striking imagery and the winners were announced at the EEF’s annual Gala Dinner and Awards in January.


Adam Cox, winner of the Youth category, EEF photo competition 2011
Adam Cox, winner of the Youth category, EEF photo competition 2011


The winner of the youth category last year, Adam Cox, took a photograph of a pedestrian crossing push button that had inspired him while on work experience. The 17 year-old came across the device in production at AGD Systems in Cheltenham.

Adam said: “As it was a product that helps so many people everyday, I thought it would make a good picture. While at AGD Systems they showed me the assembly of the buttons as well as other aspects of their business. What I saw there really interested me. It made me think that manufacturing might be something I would want to work in.”

He used his £1000 prize money to buy a new DSLR camera – a Canon 600D – and has been practising photography ever since. The teenager put his talent into action to take photographs for his AS level in Art and he hopes to study a foundation art course after he completes his A levels. When asked if he would be entering this year’s competition, he said: “Possibly. I will have to look and see if I can think of a photograph suitable. I haven’t entered this year because I have been so busy with school work but I will definitely have a think now I am on holidays.”

Mark Tomlinson, winner of the Amateur category, collecting his prize from Alexander Baldock, Managing Director of Lombard


The winner of the amateur category, Mark Tomlinson, was sent the link to the competition by colleagues who knew about his passion for photography. Mark, 42, is the operations director at Sheffield Forgemasters and used his inside knowledge to take a picture of the ‘5 Press’ – a huge 10,000 tonne open die forge – rolling a 170 tonne plate at 1200°C.

The photography enthusiast also won top prize in the same category in 2010 for his stunning picture of the largest ingot mould in the UK set against a beautiful sunset.

Mark said the secret to his continued success is ‘having a good idea in mind before taking the shot’ and ‘visualising what you want the image to look like before pressing the button.’

When asked if he had an image in mind for this year’s competition, he said: “This year it’s about trying to get across the message that we still make things in Britain. In Sheffield there is still a strong manufacturing industry in heavy engineering and high technology, I am trying to find an image that represents that.”

Mark spent last year’s £1000 winnings on lenses for his camera and is beginning to feel the pressure to secure a hat trick. He said: “When I found out I had won, I was delighted. To win the award two years in a row was very special but there seems like an awful lot more demand on me to perform this year.”

Mike Brookes Roper, winner of the professional category, EEF competition


Mike Brookes Roper won the top prize in the professional category. Mike, now in his sixties, has been taking photographs all his life after studying an Honours Degree in Photographic Studies at the University of Derby.

The freelance photographer, who lives in rural Scotland, was on a job at Ocean Power Technology’s Inverness factory and was looking for a creative way to capture the beauty of a 150k tidal turbine before it went into operation in the Moray Firth.

“I was struggling for inspiration so I took a break and called a friend. He told me to get back in there and persevere. When I did, I crawled under the turbine and that’s when the magic happened,” he said.

Magic is the secret ingredient to all of Mike’s pictures as he firmly believes that the camera and the computer should just be seen as tools. “It is too easy for people to just press a button. The real magic comes from being able to see an opportunity,” he explained.

Mike also encourages all manufacturers to seriously think about how the images they use in promotional material portrays their company. “These pictures should really be a showcase of what the company can do. If the image has been used because it is ‘just about good enough’, then what does that say about the service that company will be providing? Will that also be ‘just about good enough’?”

Last year was the second time that Mike had entered the competition and he was ‘delighted’ to take the top prize of £1000. He spent the winnings on a new Canon projector to display his work.


To enter go to: or call 020 7654 1501 for more information. The competition closes on September 28, 2012 and winners will be announced in December.