An Army photographer has been recognised by NATO for snapping the best shot of 2022.
Taken 8,000ft up in the air at the end of a 1,600-mile flight, Corporal Rob Kane’s image of pathfinders jumping by freefall parachute has been chosen as the best photo taken in the 30-nation strong NATO alliance.
To take his winning photo, Cpl Kane had to have specialist medical training and steady nerves to work on the open back ramp of an RAF C-17 Globemaster while breathing through an oxygen feed.
“I was attached to the aircraft with a tether, but I was just stood there with the Pathfinders for a few minutes looking down 18,000ft and waiting for the right moment for them to jump,” the 35-year-old said.
“It was –18C, I’d forgotten my gloves, and I had a camera in each hand with all the right settings selected. I used a high shutter speed for the stills and just kept the video rolling.
“It was a really challenging job, but I’m happy with the output and proud that people like that photo and think it’s worthy of recognition.
“To me, I was just doing my job as an Army photographer – getting into places that others can’t to take the photos that tell the Army’s story.”
Cpl Kane grew up in Rutland, attending Catmose College in Oakham and has been in the Army for 18 years.
He originally worked as a recovery mechanic in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and qualified as military parachutist, before developing a passion for photography and transferring to become a Royal Logistic Corps photographer in 2018.
The winning photo was taken as pathfinders from the 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team discreetly dropped into North Macedonia.
“This is the best job I’ve done as a photographer,” he said. “There was every chance that it wouldn’t happen because there were so many hoops to jump through.
“The opportunity was offered, and as a former 16 Brigade soldier I had the interest and a head start on the necessary skills to do it.
“There is a level of risk to working at that altitude and I had to have a medical and complete a specialist course to work on oxygen.”
Exercise Swift Response, which took place in April and May, saw more than 3,500 soldiers from eight NATO countries practicing how they can respond together to international crises.