Thinking on Your Feet

Kent Gavin, a contemporary of Ron Burton in the Golden Age of Fleet Street, gives a personal view of his long time colleague.

I was fortunate to work at Keystone where some of the great newspaper photographers like Ron had already forged their reputations. I was just starting and running prints around Fleet Street but I knew of his work.

It was a fantastic grounding because all the photographers had to be capable of delivering great news pictures as well as features and studio shots. It was no surprise when Ron won the Press Photographer of the Year award and moved to the Daily Herald.

Ron was a really imaginative photographer and was always thinking on his feet. A perfect illustration was his remote control picture while flying with the Red Arrows that has stood the test of time. I just wish I had thought of it first.

What made Ron stand out from the crowd was not only his meticulous appearance but also his meticulous planning and he was a great technician.

During the heyday of Fleet Street when money was no object photographers were given licence to create feature ideas that would appeal to readers and it was an area where Ron excelled.

On the day Prince Charles married Diana I was in Westminster Abbey but Ron captured the first kiss on the balcony. I know a lot of photographers ran out of film outside the Palace but Ron knew the shot he wanted and waited for the moment that is skill not luck.

Ron would have started his career using a 9/12 plate camera and on news stories that meant you only had one chance to capture the moment for the next day's papers. That really sorted out the men from the boys.

Many photographers couldn't cope as technology started to change the face of the industry but I'm sure Ron would have adapted.

I was lucky to work in this Golden Era and lucky to work with a true professional.


Kent Gavin worked as a runner at Keystone where Ron was a staff photographer and then joined the Daily Mirror to become his colleague in the Sixties. Eventually Kent succeeded Ron as the paper's Royal Photographer and also became a multiple winner of the Press Photographer of the Year and Royal Photographer Awards.