OBITUARIES : Ian Ball

Ian Ball's career as a photographer was remarkable not least because he started taking pictures full time at the age of 60. At 80 he was still working regularly for the Independent, and at the time of his death had plans for several assignments abroad.

After a spell in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, Ball bowed to parental pressure to work for a life assurance company. During his insurance career he had over 400 pictures published in the national press, and on retirement he carved himself a successful career in an area which is notoriously difficult to enter.

He relished far-flung assignments, such as photographing the Tall Ships Race in the middle of the Bay of Biscay, last year. He returned with a picture taken from the crow's nest. He had sent a crew member up the mast with a Polaroid camera to shoot the angles. Then, having chosen the best from the instant prints, he sent another person up the mast to set up a remote- controlled camera to recreate the Polaroid image.

During the Second World War he had taken a classic image of the war at sea - the sun setting behind a sinking tanker, which had been torpedoed by a German U-Boat. Not only did Ball produce this iconic photograph, he also helped to pick up the survivors. He used his naval contacts to secure a place on a British warship during the Gulf war, being winched on to the deck from a helicopter at an age when many people cannot climb stairs. His latest project involved photographing wildlife in Antarctica, an assignment doubly difficult because of the cold and the special skills required of a wildlife photographer.

Ian Ball would go to extraordinary lengths to obtain precisely the result he wanted - whether lying flat on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, crawling on the ice in Antarctica or using mirrors to take a photograph face-on of a bullet emerging from the barrel of a pistol.

Ian Ball was among the best newspaper photographers - he leaves behind a body of work which will continue to be published well into the future.

Edward Webb

Ian Ball was the gamest veteran newspaper photographer that I worked with as picture editor of the Independent, writes Christopher McKane. It was no surprise that he was our first photographer in the Gulf war theatre: he had had the foresight to wangle his way on board the destroyer HMS Gloucester in January 1991, just before the hostilities began. Keen though Ian was to return later to the Gulf, I had to tell the editor with my tongue only slightly in my cheek that his heart pacemaker and advanced age (76 at the time) probably made him unsuitable for a combat role.

Some years later he felt badly let down by the Royal Navy when an upstart young petty officer refused him permission to dive from the ship in which he was a welcome guest on the grounds that the Navy could no longer be responsible for somebody of his age. I think the ship was in Antarctica at the time.

"The Admiral's" visits to the picture desk were always a pleasure, not least because behind the quiet and even diffident way in which he would present his latest portfolio lay a young man's enthusiasm for adventure. Sport brought out his technical ingenuity, whether in finding distinctive new ways of covering gymnastics, archery or surfing, or in fitting a home- made gadget to a kayak to photograph it underwater as it rolled.

Ian Ball, photographer: born Dhariwal, India 7 September 1914; died London 19 February 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?