The Lisburn man was commended in the ‘News Photograph of the Year’ category of the recent 2013 Newspaper Awards in association with PJ and Fujiflim.
His photographic entry in the section - won by John Cantlie of the Sunday Times - was of a Belfast audience watching an outdoor screening of 1958 black and white film ‘A Night to Remember’ as part of last year’s 100 anniversary celebrations of the Titanic.
Judges described Cliff’s photograph, taken for the Irish News, as “very emotive, capturing the sense of history, sorrow and disbelief about the Titanic 100 years on. Astonishing!’.
It took a while to nail the winning shot, but waiting around for the specific second was a labour of love for the affable cameraman who is a bit of a fan of all things Titanic.
“I think ‘A Night to Remember’ is an excellent portrayal of the fateful night Titanic struck an iceberg and I love old black and white films anyway, so I was willing to wait to get the right picture,” Cliff said. “It was also technically quite challenging because members of the audience were sitting in darkness and I wanted to capture the ship itself when it appeared on the screen in front of them.
“The photo was taken at the Titanic compound in the outdoors, so there was some street light and also light from the screen, so it was a case of waiting until the conditions were just right.”
An added impetus was provided due to the fact the centenary screening was held 100 years to the very hour that Titanic sailed from Belfast for the final time on April 2, 1912, giving the atmosphere an extra invisible charge or two.
For the man behind the lens, it all came together in perfect symmetry and he was naturally pleased with the result - although modestly surprised to have been named in such high-ranking competition.
However, the award is not the first for Cliff who last year picked up the overall award in the prestigious international IFAJ (International Federation of Agricultural Journalists) Star Prize for his photograph ‘Spring Lamb’ and he is also a former ‘Picture of the Year’ winner in the Northern Ireland Press Photographers’ Association (NIPPA) Awards.