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The Tyre fire you could seen from space. Photo © Mark Readman

The tyre fire you could see from space - Mark Readman, 2014

1 June 2015

At 8:37 am on 16h January 2014 the North Yorkshire Fire Service received a report that Britain's largest waste tyre recycling site at Sherburn was alight.

As a self-employed photographer I respond instantly to any event I think will make a saleable set of images within my travel area so by the time the newspapers or agencies get in touch the job is already done. I'm my own picture manager.

When I reached Sherburn the police had cordoned off all the best vantage points and there was a small number of photographers and some film crew staffers also turning up. The problem was, of course, that I was behind the cordon with everybody else and all of us were getting the same pictures of not very much. It was time to make another plan.

Looking around I spotted a hillside on the other side of railway tracks that I thought might offer an elevated position overlooking the back of the site. To get there would be a good two mile hike with a full bag of kit. The shot, though, would be worth it.

I used my rucksack as a steady post and with a 300mm prime lens I was able to pick out two solitary fire-fighters almost lost in a mountain of burning tyres. The heat from the blaze meant that I couldn't get much closer. Out of all the images I took that day this one stood out.

The fire burned for weeks and became almost world famous when it was filmed from outer space. My images were syndicated via Caters News on a split basis and were published in most of the UK newspapers. I also shot video which I sold myself to a number of TV news outlets and this picture made the “Picture of the Week” centre spread in The Guardian.

Mark Readman has been drawn to photography since he was given a camera at the age of five. His family could not afford film and Mark would cut pictures out of newspapers and go out pretending to take pictures until, one day, he was run over by a motorcycle that he was pretending to photograph in the street. Mark's establishd his business but the demise of local papers using submitted freelance news content meant that he moved to supplying online news platforms. And for that he had to be much quicker and sharper than the big agency players. He's often asked what's the best news picture he's ever taken. His answer is always "the next one on the next job". Mark works as his own picture editor, as such commissioning his own work and ultimately selling it. More than 260,000 people have viewed his blog. "If nothing else it shows that people still seek out good news photographs," said Mark.

See more work by Mark Readman

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