I was deeply saddened to learn today of the passing of Jill Barrow.
Jill’s image ‘Going Home’ received a Highly Commended in the Habitat section of last year’s British Wildlife Photography Awards.
Jill was a truly wonderful lady, who made a very deep and lasting impression on me. I first met her on a trip to photograph white tailed sea eagles trip in Flatanger, Norway several years ago.It remains one of my favourite trips, the eagles were stunning and the conditions were perfect. It was greatly enriched though by Jill’s warmth, friendship and humour, not to mention tremendous bravery in the face of her degenerative medical condition. She was also a fine photographer with a wonderful eye. Jill knew that it was likely to be one of her last trips as her condition took hold. She made sure to make the most of every moment. My time with Jill on the trip had a tremendous impact on me and I kept in touch with Jill after the trip, getting to know her two wonderful children, Helen and Simon. at the same time.
Speaking to Helen today, I was tremendously touched to be told how highly she thought of me and how much I meant to her. The feeling was entirely mutual.
Jill’s shot was my personal favourite shot in last year’s competition, which I had the privilege of judging. It’s an exquisite wildlife image. The fox, deliberately shot small in the frame, making its way home over snow covered fields with the low winter sun setting just behind and the frosted tree adding balance to the image. It’s the perfect, story telling wildlife shot. Behind the image though there is an even greater story. It wasn’t taken with the latest gear, just with tremendous heart, soul and creative vision. For me it’s one of the best images in the competition’s history.
Judging for BWPA takes place in a blind so I had no idea as to the identity of the photographer at the time. I can’t tell you how surprised and pleased I was when I found out it was Jill’s image months later. Jill’s family were also thrilled with her placing. Helen tells me when Jill was diagnosed that her ambition was to get in the BWPA Portfolio book and leave that behind. I was delighted to see Jill at last year’s ceremony with Helen and Simon and to share with them their pride and joy in their mother’s achievement.
I always think of Jill still when I go out to photograph. She made me appreciate just how precious it is to spend time in the wild and what a rare privilege it is to capture its untamed beauty – and in doing so she made me a better photographer.
Jill made many wonderful friends though wildlife photography and touched many lives. I know those photographers she met are all deeply saddened by her passing having spoken to some today. I know I speak for everyone when I say our thoughts are with Helen, Simon and the rest of the Barrow family at this difficult time.