Plymouth photographer Dan Mullan is celebrating after an image he captured at Bude Cricket Club’s Crooklets ground was shortlisted for a prestigious global prize, writes Tom Howe.
A staff sports photographer at Getty Images, Dan was tasked with shooting an alternative side to last year’s summer of cricket, which culminated in England’s maiden World Cup success as well as a famous Ashes triumph to boot.
Seizing the opportunity to delve into grassroots sport, away from the hustle and bustle of the professional scene, Dan made his way to the picturesque venue and struck gold, with the juxtaposition between the moody clouds and rays of light above the players seeing him come up against some of the world’s finest in the race to win Wisden-MCC Cricket Photo of the Year. Ultimately, the award went to Dan’s Getty colleague, Gareth Copley – with the judges favouring his shot of the moment Ben Stokes secured England’s famous Ashes win at Headingley – but he was honoured to be shortlisted nonetheless.
Dan, who studied photography at Plymouth College of Art, told The Independent: “We were tasked with documenting the summer of cricket, with the World Cup being hosted in England.
“We set out to show some images of cricket that aren’t necessarily seen all the time, a bit more scenic and away from the professional grounds. A lot of the time it is hard to take time away from professional sports to go and photograph the amateur side of things.
“I had been to Bude a couple of times, saw this cricket field on top of a cliff and thought this has got to make a picture somehow. The sun sets out in the bay and creates some silhouettes and a beautiful sky but the clouds came over and I was devastated.
“This little gap in the cloud appeared and you could see the light rays streaming down. I was lying on the floor for the next ten or 15 minutes trying to make something of it and that is the end product.”
Fast forward and this summer’s sporting picture is set to be very different as a result of the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, with Dan going on to admit life is as tough for those behind the lense as in front of it right now.
“It is tough, there is no getting away from that. There is no live sport to photograph. A lot of our sports guys have been helping out our news team with covering the coronavirus side of things. On Easter weekend I was out photographing the empty beaches which would normally be jam-packed. It was quite surreal. We are also delving into our archives and producing a lot of curated sets. It is our 25th anniversary this year so it is a good chance to look through images from our past.
“As good as the news side of things is, I am definitely missing a bit of sporting action. I keep watching replays of games on TV wishing I was out there but safety is paramount.
“When [the lockdown] does get lifted, I will be straight back into action as soon as possible.”
Dan began before freelancing as a sports photographer, gaining work with Getty Images which eventually led to him being offered a full time staff position at the company.
Since then he has covered two Rugby World Cups as Australia’s team photographer, allowing him behind the scenes access to the players and coaching staff.
Dan has also covered a FIFA World Cup, two Olympic Games and countless domestic and international rugby, football and cricket matches.
He was due to head to Tokyo this summer for his third Olympic Games but that will now have to wait until next year.