Mossley moors picture earns Stalybridge photographer national recognition

A STALYBRIDGE photographer has found himself one of the country’s best after a dramatic image of the summer’s moorland fires saw him nominated for an award.

Anthony Devlin has revealed some of the secrets behind his picture that was seen around the world, including leaning on a bin.

The 39-year-old, whose mother lives in Carrbrook, saw his snap of flames raging on the ground with a full moon rising behind it used in national newspapers, on television and even in Scandinavia.

STALYBRIDGE, ENGLAND – JUNE 26: The full moon rises behind burning moorland as a large wildfire sweeps across the moors between Dovestones and Buckton Vale in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester on June 26, 2018 in Stalybridge, England. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

It also landed him a nomination in the photojournalism category of the 2018 British Journalism Awards – all for a picture that is just down the road from his Taylor Street base.

But like many good pictures, including ones of Rohingya refugees and Prime Minister Theresa May receiving a P45 during her speech at the Conservative Party conference that also earned nominations, there is a story behind it.

“I was leaning against a man’s bin in his garden,” confessed Anthony. 

“And the man told me they were evacuating houses in Carrbrook, where my mum lives, so I headed straight over there to make sure she was all right.

Anthony Devlin

“I knew there was a fire on the moors but that sort of thing happens so often, pretty much every year. I didn’t think much of it for a couple of days.

“But I went up to Carrbrook and it was thick with smoke and I also knew it was a full moon that night so it would make an interesting picture.

“First, I went to Top Mossley to try and see where the moon would come up. That’s when I could see the flames, so I ended up near the Well-i-Hole Road in Greenfield and travelled up and down the road near Dovestone Reservoir.

“I finally figured out where the moon would come up and ended up almost in a man’s garden. 

“That’s when I got the picture and it was over to Carrbrook to make sure mum was OK. Thankfully she was as the Roman road acted as a barrier from the flames.”

Anthony sent his image to the newspapers and only the morning after did it hit home what an effect it had.

Seeing it used on national television and finding national media all over Carrbrook when he returned was a surprise.

Another image from that June night proved a shock to him – they really do have alpacas in Greenfield.

“The London Evening Standard used it on their front page as well as several other national papers,” he recalled. “Sky and the BBC used it too.

Anthony Devlin in Sydney

“Another one I sent out had a llama sat down as the flames were at the top. That was the first time I noticed they even have them in Greenfield!

“The morning after I went back up to Carrbrook to see my mum and there was lots of national media crews and photographers there, a few of whom had even come up from London.

“I asked a couple of them, ‘What are you doing up here? This happens every year.’ 

“They replied, ‘It was because of your picture.’”

After seeing his image make national papers, a Scandanavian magazine also ran it and Anthony decided to see if it would be shortlisted for an award.

After submitting three images, including one of a Stalybridge postman working through the snow in his shorts, he was one of six people shortlisted.

The award was given out on December 10 and freelance Anthony, who worked for national agencies for more than a decade and is often found at football and cricket matches, was as surprised as anyone to be nominated.

He said: “You can’t get much better recognised. I’ve been nominated a couple of times before but it was still a shock.

“There are pictures of major events all around the world in there, so to be listed alongside them for things that happened a couple of miles from where I grew up is amazing.”

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