Press photographer

Born: December 9, 1932

Died: April 30, 2019

HUGH Gibson, who has died aged 86, was an old school press photographer who plied his trade in places as diverse as Paisley Cross and London’s Piccadilly Circus .

With his trademark white goatee beard, ever-present cigarillo hanging from his mouth and a camera round his neck, he became known to thousands of people.

For decades as a freelance photographer, Hugh captured the life and times in Paisley and surrounding areas through his camera lens for numerous newspapers including the Paisley Daily Express. In his time, Hugh, who lived most of his adult life in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, photographed celebrities, rock stars, royalty and ordinary people with the same aplomb.

Growing up in Glasgow’s Gorbals, a young Hugh Ferguson Gibson always had a dream of being a professional newspaper photographer and got his first break when he was employed as a copy boy with the Scottish Daily Express during the Second World War. He then worked with the Frank Hardy photographic studio in Paisley before heading to London with his wife, Terri, during the Swinging Sixties.

It was there that Hugh made a name for himself, being hired as a freelance photographer with various agencies. Although he hated the description, Hugh was one of the first of a breed of photographers now known as the paparazzi. Working for the Mayfair Press Agency, he would wait outside theatres and nightclubs for celebrities to emerge, his shutter-finger poised. He always described himself as a a ‘society photographer’.

He was a Reuters man as he covered the 1961 Profumo affair and took many pictures of model Christine Keeler, who was at the centre of the political scandal after having an affair with Government minister John Profumo.

Hugh and Terri returned to Paisley with the pending birth of their only child, Mark, who would go on to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a well-respected photographer, spending more than 20 years with The Herald and Evening Times.

Hugh was also a regular fixture at St Mirren’s home games, crouching just behind the touchline capturing the on-field action.

On one big European night, when he was there on behalf of Reuters, he was knocked unconscious after a Sparta Prague player careered off the park and accidentally collided with him. A fellow photographer, the late Ian Hossack, of the Glasgow Herald, picked up Hugh’s camera and took photographs so that Hugh would have images to send to Reuters.

Hugh was known for his determination to get the right picture and one day that landed him in trouble with Terri.

There was a huge grass fire on the Gleniffer Braes above Paisley and Hugh persuaded a member of Glasgow Flying Club who had a three-seater gyrocopter to fly him over the Braes to take photographs.

Since there was a spare seat on the gyrocopter, Hugh decided to take ten-year-old Mark with him. The boy was delighted at being part of what he reckoned was a James Bond-style adventure since a gyrocopter featured in the 007 film, You Only Live Twice.

But Terri was understandably less than impressed to learn that her only son had been had been whizzing around the skies in the unusual flying machine.