Top award for RAF Photographer


SAC Phil Dye, who works at the Akrotiri Photographic Section, placed first and third in the Technical and Engineering category for two of his three entries.

The prestigious competition, which sees hundreds of photos submitted into each of the 13 categories, is open to more than 100 military and freelance photographers across the RAF with the top three in each category shortlisted by industry professionals.

SAC Dye, who was crowned Photographer of the Year in 2016 for his outstanding work, said he was delighted with his most recent success and it has made him more determined to reclaim the crown he was awarded two years ago when the winners are announced in 2019. He explained:

“Of course I was delighted to take first and third place in the Technical and Engineering category because it is always nice to take what can be seen as a rather dull piece of equipment and make it interesting for people to look at.

“Photographing broken equipment is one of our main roles as a photo section so it is great to be able to use that as a medium to make my photos interesting.

“This year, I made my submissions but I knew I didn’t have the right images to take the top prize. Next year, I hope it will be different and I will be going for the win again like in 2016.”

Speaking shortly after discovering about his win, the 33-year-old who graduated from the RAF School of Photography in 2013, said the Technical and Engineering category provides one of the greatest challenges for a photographer due to the nature of the image.

He said: “This category sums up one of the things I love the most about photography and that is seeing something that the majority of people would simply pay no attention to and walk passed and turning it into something that makes you stop and look.

“When you can take an obscure piece of equipment, like in the case of my winning entry this year – a picture of an engine bay – and make it look interesting, then I know I have done my job.”

So, what was the inspiration behind this year’s winning photograph?

“It was chance really. An aircraft was having repairs done to one of its engines and it was directly outside of my office for a couple of weeks. So, I asked if I could take some pictures of it and the end result turned out pretty good and took first place.”


And now looking ahead to next year’s competition, SAC Dye said being based in Cyprus should provide him with the perfect opportunity to have a go at the prestigious photographer of the Year award. He said:

“I am doing something that I love, so when your job is also your hobby, it is easy to feel inspired. I get to see all aspects of the RAF out here.

“I am lucky because I am not stuck behind a desk, so I can get out be inspired and if I can apply the principles of photography and take an image that will make people stop and stare, then I am hopeful that I can do well again next year.”

This year’s awards, which saw the RAF 100-year anniversary featured heavily, drew more than 1,000 photographic entries into the competition and over 25 videos, all with the aim of showcasing the “very best of the RAF.”   

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