How a top photographer started: Tom Stoddart won the Visa D'or, the top award at this year's prestigious international festival of photo- journalism at Perpignan.

'I had never taken a picture before my first job, as a photographer on a local newspaper. I was handed a camera when I arrived at the Berwick Advertiser, the exposure was set and I was sent out to take bonny babies. After two days I was hooked. I knew I would not want to do anything else. Until then I had wanted to be a writer. A few years before, I remember being struck by some photographs of the fishing village I come from. There were these enormous prints of people I knew, and I thought, what beautiful things. But the camera is just a tool. I have seen some wonderfully imaginative pictures taken with a beer can with a hole in it. It reminded me of what it's all about.'