AN ABERGAVENNY photographer whose pictures of hospital life during the fight against coronavirus went viral earlier in the pandemic has been named as the recipient of a major industry award.

As well as taking award-winning pictures, David Collyer is an operating department practitioner at Abergavenny's Nevill Hall hospital.

Mr Collyer discovered said that his passion for telling a story through pictures began as a teenager, spending time with the press photographers and journalists on a local paper in Surrey edited by his father.

His photo of a shattered theatre practitioner appeared on the front page of The Guardian and was one of Amateur Photographer magazine’s photos of the year in 2020.

On Saturday came the news that his pictures of the pandemic at Nevill Hall had seen him named by the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) as Documentary Photographer of the Year 2021.


Mr Collyer said that he was "absolutely overjoyed and honoured to receive the award", which had more than 3,500 entries from international photographers.

"My drive for the project was not only to record what was happening from a staff perspective, but to take a snapshot of what was unfolding into what appeared to be an historical period in history," he said.

Mr Collyer explained that he had decided early on not to photograph patients, as he didn’t feel that ethically he could justify using his clinical role to do so.

Instead, increasingly uncomfortable with the NHS Heroes rhetoric, he wanted to show the human faces of his colleagues, whether in light-hearted moments, or on the edge of despair.

As well as capturing the battle against coronavirus from the front lines, Mr Collyer has been fighting a very real battle of his own.

In June last year, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer.

The tumour was removed ten days after diagnosis, but Mr Collyer was told that as it was a high-grade cancer, he would have to have checks every three months.

However, Saturday's award from the RPS came in the same week as some more good news.

"I found out I was currently cancer free," Mr Collyer said.

"The three-week checks will be every six months instead."

Not wanting to rest on his laurels for a second, Mr Collyer is already well into planning his next project.

Teaming up with Cancer Research Wales, he will document unique and hopeful stories of people living with cancer in Wales.

"I want to show people aren't defined by their diagnosis," he said.

You can share your story to be part of Mr Collyer's project, which gets under way from January, at