Walking near his local Kentish beach earlier this year, part-time freelance photographer Tony Flashman was approached by some dog-walkers asking if he knew what had happened to the Starfish? Answering with the question "What starfish?" he was pointed in the direction of the shoreline to take a look.
The sight that greeted him was dead starfish as far as the eye could see in both directions. Now Tony always carries a camera, but, being primarily a wildlife photographer in his spare time, he seldom has a lens less than 300mm with him, normally coupled to a 1.7x converter.
Fortunately on this occasion he had a standard zoom about his person and proceeded to take a few shots of the vista to send to the local paper, which he promptly did on his return home.
Within a day he received a phonecall from the Daily Mail asking to use the image. This was followed by the Daily Telegraph and then ABC News, the US television station. As the story spread the image appeared on Breakfast TV, Week magazine, Kent on Sunday newspaper and a number of other local interst newspapers and publications.
The story that accompanied it was based around environmental concerns, with various theories being aired as to the reason for the demise of the creatures. The picture has been used as far afield as Japan and the US.
The moral for the Freelancer is that you never know what is around the corner (or in this case, over the mound of defensve shingle that seperated him from the shoreline) and that it is always advisable to carry a camera with you.
In a matter of hours these unfortunate creatures had been washed away by the next tide, never to be seen again. The images that Tony shot though, are still being used some months later and earnings to date from the images have broken well into the £four figure mark.
Tony Flashman has been taking photographs for more than 30 years and spent the majority of his working life in the photographic processing trade, changing his own workflow to digital with the advent of the Nikon D1. His current cameras are a D300 backed up by a D2X on which this image was taken. You can see more of Tony's work on his website www.tonyflashman.co.uk