Born: March 25, 1968;
Died: April 11, 2015.
Gordon Jack, who has died unexpectedly aged 47, was a respected and well-liked professional photographer who fell ill while covering the rehearsal for the wedding of Scotland’s tennis star Andy Murray. Such was Mr Jack’s reputation in the world of Scottish journalism that even First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was devastated on hearing the news. He was, said Ms Sturgeon, a great photographer and a lovely man.
Gordon William Jack was born in Haddington, East Lothian, but at around the age of 10 his family moved to Linlithgow, West Lothian, where he completed his schooling, and would spend the rest of his life. A well-known face both locally and across West Lothian, he came to professional photography relatively late in life, near the age of 30.
Quite early on in his career, he started working in a freelance capacity for the Daily Record. “I took him on as a photographer in Edinburgh,” explained Stuart Nicol, the then picture-desk editor on the paper. “He came to me, showed his portfolio, and started some doing freelance work with us, and then I took him on staff.”
Mr Nicol had no doubts about Mr Jack’s abilities: “He was the best news photographer in Scotland by a country mile. His real key skill – talk to any people who had been out on the road with him – was that he cared passionately about the story and worked very hard to make the story work. Not just the picture side of it; he put the leg-work in, knocking doors to help the journalists out. He had a great news sense.”
Mr Jack’s editorial photography would soon appear regularly in publications as diverse as the Daily Record, the Daily Mail and The Telegraph, and he was much appreciated by editors thanks to not just his obvious technical abilities but also his diversity. He appeared equally adept covering a studio-based fashion shoot as he was recording the heartbreaking plight of refugees in the Kosovo conflict or the war in Afghanistan following 9/11.
Photographers, perhaps even more than journalists, have been affected by the digital revolution that has reshaped the newspaper industry. Thankfully, Mr Jack’s instinctive gift for “the story” helped establish him in the world of wedding and studio photography. He was one of the first photographers in Scotland to introduce documentary style photography for wedding couples, resulting in a relaxed informal account of their big day.
“He always worked away in the background, he was never confrontational; yes, I think, he never wanted to be the story,” Mr Nicol added. “But I think his family know how popular he was. And his talents didn’t stop at being a good journalist; he was an immense photographer. In recent years he’d done weddings, and PR and commercials, and all of those things he touched a lot of people’s lives. I’ve never met anyone who’s had a bad word to say about Gordon. Not one person ever.”
Current Daily Record picture editor Alasdair Baird added: “Gordon was an outstanding photographer and journalist who was loved and respected in equal measure by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to our industry and he will be sorely missed by all that knew him.”
In 2003, he established Jack Photography, with his wife Gilly, to promote his wedding and PR work; five years later he launched editorial-focused ScotImage. Both were proudly based in Linlithgow, his home town.
It was on behalf of the latter that he attended the Friday rehearsal for Andy Murray’s wedding at Dunblane Cathedral, tweeting several photographs of the venue along with his hopes that the sunshine and blue sky would hold for the big day. As the tennis star walked outside the cathedral to meet and greet hundreds of well-wishers, Mr Jack fell from his position on to a gravestone. Murray was reported to have looked over with concern, but was ushered away by security.
The Scottish Ambulance Service and a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service crew from Dunblane attended the cathedral around 4.38pm. Mr Jack was taken to Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert where it was reported he was placed in a medically induced coma to aid recovery from complications following a heart attack. He died the following day.
“Nobody can believe it,” Mr Nicol said. “Scottish photography has lost one of its stars; without a doubt he was an immense talent.”
Gordon Jack is survived by his wife Gilly and three children, their daughters Megan and Emily, and son Sam.