Full steam ahead for Cahersiveen photographer

Sinead Kelleher

Cahersiveen photographer Stephen McCarthy is still pinching himself after one of his photographs won second place in the World Press Photography awards last week.

His photo 'Steaming Scrum' taken during the Lions Rugby Tour in New Zealand was taken at a warm-up game in Rotorua and captured the steam rising from the players and mingling with the cold air.

The iconic photo is already known worldwide, putting Stephen among the best photographers in the world but he is taking it in his stride and says that luck played a part in capturing the perfect shot.

"I stumbled across that picture. I saw the steam rising from the body heat and cold weather earlier in the night and I thought to myself 'keep that in mind for later' and I was fortunate enough to get it. A lot of luck was involved. It was a bad game for pics as nothing happened, some are good, some aren't," he says.

There were thousands of entries to each category at the World Press Photo Awards and   in February the three most iconic sports photos were nominated. Last Thursday Stephen's photo won second place at a special ceremony in Amsterdam.

"This it the pinnacle. There isn't any better competition," he said.

"It hasn't sunk in yet. The last week has been a blur. It is incredible to have won this. It is something I will never forget," said Stephen.

"I was rubbing shoulders in Amsterdam with the best photographers in the world. I have had messages of congratulations from all over the world and these are people I looked up to. I have to pinch myself," he added.

Stephen works for Sportsfile - a highly respected sports photography agency that covers sports events throughout Ireland around the world. He started at the company just days after finishing his Leaving Cert and has never looked back.

"The boss Ray McManus took a huge gamble on me. I did work experience there in April and I got such a buzz I knew this is what I wanted to do."