FORMER HMAS Albatross photographer Kel Hockey has joined some elite company winning the Rosemary Rodwell Memorial Prize for the navy’s best photograph in 2016.
Petty Officer Hockey captured one of the RAN’s new Romeo Seahawks hovering next to the air traffic control tower at Albatross, with a Squirrel helicopter in the background going almost vertical.
“It wasn’t a photo I set up, the Squirrel just happened to be there,” PO Hockey said.
“It wasn’t intentional but you have got to take opportunities when they are presented.”
He captured the photo during his role as the base’s senior photographer, while covering a traffic controllers’ open day at the control tower.
The Rosemary Rodwell Memorial Prize award was established in 1987 as a bequest by the family of PO Rodwell whose distinguished navy career spanned more than 20 years.
The award is presented annually to a photographer who best demonstrates the pursuit of excellence in capturing a memorable photographic image.
And competition is always fierce for the RAN’s top photographic award.
“It is a great honour to win the award,” he said, who now joins Able Seaman Jesse Rhynard, Able Seaman Alan Lancaster and Leading Seaman Yuri Ramsay from Albatross who have won the coveted prize.
There are 35 naval photographers and each submitted their five best photos, which were then “blind judged” by senior imagery specialists from across navy, army and air force.
“There were so many great photographs. I never expected to win. But to be judged as having taken the best photo for 2016 is pretty special,” PO Hockey said.
Originally a “Nowra boy”, PO Hockey attended Shoalhaven High School where his interest in photography was sparked by Ms Fitzgerald’s art classes.
“I was in years 10 and 11 and it was great,” he said.
“But I shelved it [photography] when I joined the navy in 1997 to become a bosun’s mate.”
After learning about the navy’s photographic service, he transferred in 2001.
He is now based at HMAS Kuttabul in Sydney.
PO Hockey's winning photo will be exhibited at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in the coming months - previous award winners can be viewed in print at the Rosemary Rodwell Hall located on the ground floor of the museum.