Photographer Ric’s focusing on life in Iraq

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Ric Cole at work Ric Cole at work

A photographer has been risking life and limb to provide images of one of the world's most dangerous places.

Freelance photographer Ric Cole, of Sutton, near Keighley, has spent four months in Iraq, commanding the Combat Camera Team in Basra.

The team's aim is to provide photographs of the activities of the British military.

In a country where few foreign journalists have been able to get out on the ground, Ric's team has helped provide an essential window into south-eastern Iraq.

Working from the Contingency Operating Base (COB) at Basra International Airport, he and two colleagues have captured the action and provided footage and images to the world's media, giving a "soldier's eye view" of combat operations.

Ric said that the variety of the work had provided him with a unique opportunity as a photographer. He said: "It has been an amazing tour of duty. The Combat Camera Team was with the first British troops back into Basra in support of the Iraqi Security Forces' surge into the city.

"We have had the privilege of working closely with the Iraqis. They love being photographed."

Having served for 12 years in the Royal Marines and the Royal Irish Regiment, Ric left the Army in 2007.

He is now a Captain in the Media Operations Group (Volunteers) and was one of more than 550 army reservists serving in Iraq over the Territorial Army's centenary celebrations last month.

The Media Operations Group (Volunteers) is a Territorial Army unit that provides support to the army, providing the knowledge, experience and equipment to create a link between the military, the media and the public.

As well as documenting combat operations, Ric's team have photographed the British Museum survey of Iraq's ancient sites, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's "Invest Basra" conference in Kuwait, and the Desert Ashes, the grudge cricket match between British and Australian forces. They also photographed visits by senior officers and politicians, including Defence Secretary Des Browne and the Commanding General in Iraq, General David Petraeus.

Ric's photographs and articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Times, Independent, Combat and Survival, Soldier, The Shooting Gazette and the Help For Heroes website, which provides help for those wounded in Britain's current conflicts.

However, Ric will not be able to pack up his desert uniform yet as he is due to go to Afghanistan in July in support of the Paras in the Helmand province in the south west of the country.

He said: "It does give an enormous sense of satisfaction when you see your work make it into print or on the TV.

"It reassures you that the risks you take to capture the images have been worth it."

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