Former Evening Standard and Sunday People picture editor Alan Reed has died aged 83.
Reed, from East Dulwich, London, began his career on Fleet Street as a 16-year-old when he found a job as a messenger boy for the Evening News.
Moving up the ranks he worked in the newspaper’s library before becoming picture editor. When the News closed in 1980 he joined the Sunday Express and later the Sunday People and Evening Standard.
Daily Mail assistant editor Charles Garside, who worked with Reed at the Evening News and Standard, said he regarded him as a great mentor.
“A lot of great photographers got their start in the industry because of Alan. And some went on to nationals,” he said.
When he wasn’t working 12-hour days Reed, who spent his later years in West Wickham, Kent, could often be found at dog tracks.
Said Garside: “He was a character. He loved his dogs and he took me a couple of times to the dog tracks and it was so fascinating to me. Alan was absolutely into it.”
Reed chose not to have a funeral but will instead have his ashes scattered at Brighton and Hove Greyhound Stadium as per his request.
Reed’s son Paul said he became a photographer after being inspired by his dad.
He said his father’s gift of a Netar camera for a school trip to the Tower of London that resulted in his pictures being developed and displayed at the school with his byline was a turning point.
He said: “I saw that and all I wanted from then on was to be a photographer. He was the driving force and my inspiration.”
Suzie Hamilton a former Evening News colleague of Reed, said: “He was looked upon as one of the best picture editors on Fleet Street. Without him I would not have my career in pictures.
“When I became the picture editor for Sainsbury’s magazine he sent me a little note. It said ‘I always knew you’d make it and I am very proud of you. Love, Alan.’ And I still have it.”
She also remembered Reed’s sense of humour, even during the high-stress environment of the newsroom, adding: “One April Fool’s day he sent a photographer out to take pictures of garden gnomes in Surrey. The photographer came back fuming. After Alan had a laugh he took the photographer out for lunch.”
David Thorpe, who was also a photographer under Reed at the Evening News, said he taught him to put the paper first.
He said: “During The Troubles I was sent with three photographers to Ireland and before we left Alan told us that we had to pick the best picture to send not the first one. He said ‘I don’t care who took the first one, I want the best one’”.
Recalling the IRA bombing of the Aldershot Barracks in February 1972, Thorpe said he had been on a film set in North London at the time, adding: “Instead of sending a photographer from the office, he knew I would call and so Alan had the helicopter already running.
“Alan and I flew over the site and I managed to get three frames. Alan knew his staff and knew what would be the fastest way. All I did was take the photo and Alan did everything else. He was a quick-thinker.”
Thorpe said that when Reed was stressed and waiting for pictures to come back he would twirl his hair in his hands, making it stand up “like an aerial”.
He added that Reed was “tough, but fair” and if someone had let him down, or was lazy, he would punish them quietly, saying: “You’d be sent to photograph at the end of the tube lines for a few weeks.”
Reed died on Thursday 13 April at St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham. He is survived by his wife Sylvia, his son Paul and his daughter Helen.