Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Belfast Telegraph's dramatic photo of loyalist rioter makes a splash around the globe

Blowback:  Loyalist  on police landrover hit by water cannon in Woodvale
Blowback: Loyalist on police landrover hit by water cannon in Woodvale
Police have been pelted with bricks, bottles, heavy masonry and petrol bombs during five consecutive nights of disorder in Belfast
Police have been pelted with bricks, bottles, heavy masonry and petrol bombs during five consecutive nights of disorder in Belfast
Police officer is injured in north Belfast, after an Orange July 12  parade was stopped from passing a Nationalist area. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 12, 2013. See PA story ULSTER Parades. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Police officer is injured in north Belfast, after an Orange July 12 parade was stopped from passing a Nationalist area. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 12, 2013. See PA story ULSTER Parades. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

It was captured in a split second – an arresting image that travelled around the world.

Belfast Telegraph photographer David Fitzgerald has spoken of how he snapped a rioter being blown off a police Land Rover, a picture that is now making its own headlines.

David's front page photograph of the rioter being struck by a blast from a water cannon was taken when violence flared in the Woodvale area of north Belfast on Friday night.

Despite the speed of the incident, the photographer managed to get a clear shot of the trouble-maker being unceremoniously blown off the roof of the PSNI Land Rover.

Our cameraman took the shot with a Canon 1D Mark III using a 70-200mm lens, and got the loyalist falling back into a furious crowd.

David said being in the thick of the action – but staying safe – helped him capture during the rioting the stand-out image many are talking about.

"Basically, all the other photographers were on the other side of the crowd," he said.

"I was stood on the windowsill of someone's house; it had a bay window so, luckily, I was protected from any bottles thrown.

"Part of me could see it coming. I saw the man on the police van and I just knew what would happen if he got hit because he was so close.

"Yes, I anticipated what happened next, but did I expect it to be so dramatic? No way."

Saturday's front page snap sparked widespread praise for the 23-year-old snapper.

It wasn't long before the image went global, and reactions began to flow from the public and members of the Press.

People shared their opinions on social networking sites, from the US to Switzerland.

Some of the police officers involved in dealing with the trouble have requested a copy of the image.

Laure James from Sky Sports was among many to praise the photo that stood out from news-stands on Saturday.

Sky News Ireland correspondent David Blevins told other photographers they had a lot to live up to.

He tweeted: "Don't bother entering the best press picture competition. @DavieFitzgerald has already won it. Iconic image".

With around 70 retweets, others obviously felt the same.

It is also circulating as an internet meme with the caption 'UFO – Unidentified Flying Orangeman.'

David said he was overwhelmed with the feedback.

"This is the biggest reaction I've ever got from a photograph, it's huge," he said.

He explained why he thought the power of photojournalism was still important in an era when most phones had a camera.

He said: "It gets people talking. This picture shocked people, it made them debate, it made some people laugh and it triggered emotions.

It wasn't just Saturday's Press which displayed the eye-catching image of a rioter being struck by the cannon.

Sunday's papers were filled with the image, including Sunday Life, Sunday World, the Irish Mail on Sunday, The Sun and online for UTV.

BBC Radio Ulster also paid tribute to it on its Sunday breakfast show.

But it's the opinions of his colleagues that mean most to David.

"The nicest thing was getting compliments from other photographers who I know and respect," he added.

"People who I admire were telling me what a good job I had done. Photographers like Charles McQuillan, Alan Lewis and Justin Kernoghan. It really means a lot."

- CLAIRE GRAHAM

Reaction on Twitter

Barra Best @barrabest: Photo journalism at its best. David Fitzgerald's picture on front of today's Belfast Telegraph. #Twelfth

Sky News Ireland correspondent David Blevins: Don't bother entering the best press picture competition. @DavieFitzgerald has already won it. Iconic image". (It seems others felt the same, judging by the 70 retweets which followed)

James Gordon @jamesgordon89: Front page of yesterday's Belfast Telegraph. Haha...hahahaha...hahahahahahahaa!!!!

BBC'S Kelly Bonner @KellyBonner: Photo of the year! @DavieFitzgerald picture on front of the Belfast Telegraph #Twelfth #watercannon

County Antrim's Peter Cole @weepetecole: If there was a hero at last night's riot it was @DavieFitzgerald #awesome snapping!

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