By Bill Heaney
Picture of David Mitchell by Stewart Cunningham
News arrived this morning of the death of David Mitchell, who was one of Scotland’s finest photographers. He was 80.
The dwindling newspaper community in West Dunbartonshire, which was once famous for the quality of its local newspapers and the journalists and photographers who worked for them, is deeply saddened by the death of this top professional and truly nice man.
Our condolences go out to David’s wife, Moreen, and family, Gerard, Elaine and Jeff, all of whom are (or were) in the media business. Jeff is widely recognised as Scotland’s leading photographer and works for the famous Getty agency. He was, of course, trained by his father.
Stewart Cunningham, who worked with David over many years, said: “I heard the sad news early this morning from his son Jeff, that one of Scotland’s finest photographers David Mitchell, died peacefully at 6.40am.”
He added: “I met David for the first time in the 70s as a youngster starting out and he was always helpful and generous with sound advice.
“Later on in life, we worked together supplying all the UK papers and a host of others worldwide with news and sports photos from our office in Glasgow. They were great days.”
David worked in partnership in Dumbarton with another fine photographer, Brian Averell, and they had a busy studio in Glasgow Road.
David Mitchell pictured with Stewart Cunningham, Jeff Mitchell and John Young.
Former colleagues, including ex Herald and Times picture editor, John Young, sent messages of sympathy to social media.
Amongst them was one from Tina Kemp, who worked at both the Dumbarton Reporter and the Lennox Herald and is now a minister of religion.
She wrote: “Sorry to hear the news. Worked with Dave on and off over the years. A real gentleman.”
Veteran journalist Bill Heaney said: “My best story about David is that when we went to the then notorious Blackhill housing scheme in Glasgow to do a feature about Sister Anne Ryan, a nun who did great work for the prisoners and their families in Barlinnie Prison, we were arrested and locked up in the Governor’s office.
“The staff confiscated David’s film because they said his pictures of the nun, who was not on the run, might compromise security at the gaol.
“We were released with a warning and told to come back on the Monday when the film would have been cleared or destroyed.
“David took it all in his stride. I never saw him angry or flustered. He took some fabulous photographs, which appeared in publications right across the world. He was a great photographer and a very good friend when we worked together at the Lennox Herald.”
Last time I saw him and Moreen was at a flat in which they were living at Arden House on Loch Lomondside. Their own home at Balloch had been damaged in a serious fire.
David Mitchell’s picture of Sister Anne Ryan, which landed all of us, including the nun, inside the gaol.