Blog about my photojournalism work, and maybe about anything else that takes my fancy from time to time. All views expressed here are my own and do not represent those of my employers.

Farewell to a friend and mentor


A good friend passed away today.  Lino Arrigo Azzopardi, an Associated Press photographer here in Malta for many years, passed away aged 77 after a battle with cancer, a battle which destroyed his health and his body, but not his sense of humour and his joyful, funny character traits.  He was one of a kind, a chap I learnt so much from, particularly in my early days as an upcoming wire photographer.  Though we worked for competing agencies, that never got in the way of helping each other out – sometimes it might have been helping with equipment technical issues, or passing on a few image negatives when one of us missed an event, or tip-offs.


Lino and I at the Office of the Prime Minister in 1998, waiting for the newly-elected prime minister to arrive after winning the general elections.

He’d cheated death before, having had a narrow escape in a traffic accident while he was travelling in the Maltese President’s motorcade in Bulgaria in 2001.  Recovery and recuperation took several months.  He had been working as the President’s and Prime Minister’s official photographer on overseas visits for several years – once he was out of action, he recommended that I take his place until he was well again, a gesture that enabled me to travel to some wonderful and distant parts of the globe.

Fond memories are too many to write here. But the ones which most comes to mind, something we’d often reminisce about whenever we met and have a bellyful of laughs about, was when Britain’s Queen Elizabeth visited Malta for a day in 2007 – we were on the same fixed photo position, both armed with long lenses, waiting for the Queen to walk out of a public garden and come towards us.  Hundreds of people lined the barriers along the side, waiting to catch a glimpse of the Queen.  As she approached, our view of her was totally obstructed by members of her entourage, protection detail and roving photographers and TV cameramen.  Both Lino and I started shouting and yelling for them to get out of the way.  I’m sure there was the odd bit of blasphemy thrown in as well.  People, including many tourists, were horrified – they thought we were shouting and swearing at the Queen herself.


Myself, Paul Zammit Cordina, Lino and Stephen Gatt before the Malta vs Italy Euro 2016 qualifier

Another fond memory goes back to the day we were working on the MV Arctic Sea story in 2009.  The Maltese-registered freighter had just been handed back to its Finnish owners by Russia, just outside Maltese territorial waters, more than two months after its forces recovered it off the Cape Verde Islands. Arctic Sea had disappeared in the Atlantic after being boarded by eight hijackers in the Baltic Sea in July, causing a media storm. When the ship had anchored just outside Maltese waters, a few days before it was eventually towed into harbour, Lino and I had got on a friend’s boat and spent the whole day at sea, checking out as many ships as we could in the limited charter time we had, trying to (unsuccessfully) get some pictures of the freighter.


Lino covers the arrival of evacuees from Libya in 2011

Perhaps one of the funniest memories goes back to 1999.  We were covering the Games of the Small States of Europe in Liechtenstein.  Our hotel was across the border in a small Austrian town, the name of which escapes me at the moment.  On our first evening there, our group of around half a dozen or so journalists walked around the town for ages, looking for a place to have dinner.  It was late, most places were closed.  Eventually, we found one restaurant which seemed to be about to close, but the owner waved us in.  As we sat inside, Lino was trying to communicate with the owner in very broken German, getting quite frustrated when they weren’t managing to understand each other.  It took a good half an hour before someone twigged onto the fact that the restaurant owner was Italian, and all of us were fluent Italian speakers.


Myself, Lino, Matthew Mirabelli and Charles Marsh at the Games of the Small States of Europe in Liechtenstein, 1999

I could go on and on …. so many memories, but I’ll leave it at that.  So long Lino, you were larger than life.  As they say, till we meet again, old friend.

2 responses

  1. Reblogged this on The Cons's Nook: and commented:
    More about Lino Arrigo Azzopardi from my esteemed colleague Darrin Zammit Lupi

    December 27, 2016 at 17:07

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