As Europe’s top footballing nations prepare to battle it out in the EURO 2008 tournament CPN’s John McDermott spoke to the world’s best football photographers to find out which pictures from their careers are their personal favourites and why. In part one of this two-part article seven top football shooters select the best images they’ve ever taken.
Monte Fresco MBE - Daily Mirror, England
Monte Fresco spent the bulk of his long career working for the Daily Mirror. In 1995 Queen Elizabeth II awarded him an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for ‘Services to Sport Photography’. In May 2005 he received the British Sports Journalists Association Lifetime Achievement Award. He has covered seven World Cups, many European Championships and more than 40 FA Cup Finals.
Monte reveals: “What makes a great football picture? Being in the right place with the right lens and… luck! After a working lifetime in sport for a national newspaper, with 80% of my time spent concentrating on football, I know that I have been very, very lucky. For me it was always about ‘Incidents’. I was always looking for an incident that had gone unnoticed, something off the ball, something to make the reader stop and take a second look and think ‘I didn’t see that!’”
He adds: “My theory was if I missed a goal the agencies would supply it. That is what they do, and do very well. I would always try to find a picture other than “Man kicks Ball”. Confrontations, celebrations, anger, laughter, fun and pure joy all are to be seen in the course of a 90 minute match. Watching for any of these and then picturing them is the hard part, hence the need for luck. These criteria apply regardless of the level of football that you are photographing kids in the park or a World Cup Final, all of them always contain during the match… ‘Incidents’.”
Thomas Kienzle - Associated Press, Germany
Thomas Kienzle has been a photographer for the Associated Press based in Stuttgart since 1984 after beginning his career at his hometown newspaper, the Offenburger Tageblatt. He has covered six World Cups, five European Championships, 10 Olympics, numerous Champions League Finals and World Championships in sports such as alpine skiing and athletics. Thomas won first prize in the 1991 International Olympic Committee Best of Sport contest and German Sport Photo of the Year in 1998 and 2001.
Thomas explains: “Football is the number one sport in Germany, so it is a must for any agency photographer to cover it. Football has a special meaning to me, personally, because from the age of 8 until I was 18 I was playing in the junior teams of the biggest football club in my hometown of Offenburg. Shortly after that I started my career as a photographer at the local paper, where I regularly found myself coming back to the stadium, this time not on the pitch but on the other side of the lines.”
Thomas adds: “To this very day the appeal of football for me is not only the suspense of the game, but also the suspense for the photographer of not knowing what will happen in the next 90 minutes and what pictures he will get. What I aim for in a football picture is to show the dynamic of the game in a peak action close-up and to tell the story of the match through the reactions of the players and coaches.”
Simon Bruty - Sports Illustrated, USA
Simon Bruty is a staff photographer for Sports Illustrated based in Washington DC. He has covered every World Cup since 1990, winning the top World Press Photo Award in the Sports category in 1999 for a World Cup image of the France team celebrating its victory. In 2003, L'Equipe named him Sports Photographer of the Year and The London Observer chose one of his rugby images as one of the World's 50 Greatest Sports Photographs. The International Olympic Committee picked his portfolio as the Best of Sport Portfolio Winner in 1994. Bruty began his career in London with the Allsport agency.
Simon says: “I have never really thought it was me who makes a good photograph at a soccer game but the athletes themselves: their grace, energy and devotion to the game are electrifying. My job is to concentrate because the action can change in the blink of an eye. I love to photograph this game because of its unpredictability and the passion the players bring to the field, whether they are playing in the street or in the Stade de France. While in Zambia to work on a story about their national team which had been killed in a plane crash I came across a group of boys playing in the street and from that chance encounter came this image.”
Per Kjaerbye - freelance, Denmark
Per Kjaerbye has been the official photographer of the DBU (the Danish FA) since 1978. He has photographed five World Cups and seven European Championships. In 1985 he was named Danish Sports Journalist of the Year, the first photographer to ever receive this recognition. His other clients include many Danish newspapers and magazines and he is a regular contributor to UEFA’s publications. He now works together with one of his three sons, Anders.
Per reveals his photographic philosophy: “A great picture is one that immediately tells the story. The viewer should, on his or her own, be able to compose a story based on what they are viewing. In this picture from the European Championship Final in 1992, Denmark is under heavy pressure from the Germans. The Danish defender Kent Nielsen leaps from the ground and acrobatically clears the ball just in front of German striker Karl-Heinz Riedle. The picture shows a historical situation in which Peter Schmeichel was manoeuvred out of position by the Germany strikers and if Kent Nielsen had not cleared the ball in the way he did, the Germans might have equalized and who knows what might have happened then? This situation, and many others in that tournament, were of crucial meaning to Danish football.”
Hans Rauchensteiner - freelance, Germany
Hans Rauchensteiner trained as a mechanical engineer but in the early 1970s he became friends with the son of Germany’s most powerful media mogul, Axel Springer Jr., who worked as a sports photographer under the pseudonym Sven Simon. Hans took a job at the Sven Simon agency and worked there until 1980, when he became a freelance sports photographer primarily focusing on football. His clients include most major magazines and newspapers in Germany and he has enjoyed a long collaboration with both FC Bayern Munich and the German Football Federation. Hans has photographed every World Cup since 1974, seven European Championships, 15 Olympics, many Wimbledon and Roland Garros tennis tournaments and numerous Formula 1 races. He won first prize in the World Press Photo competition in 1978, Germany Sport Photo of the Year in 1987 and 1993, first prize in the VDS competition and first prize in the International Olympic Committee’s Best of Sport competition in 1989.
Hans explains: “Football photography is so interesting to me because it's so very unpredictable. The individual combat, the shot on goal, as well as the cheering and disappointment are all themes I search for in every game. Unfortunately those scenes do not always happen within my field of focus. With 22 players and the size of a soccer field being as big as it is, it is more often than not good luck that puts you in the right place at the right place. Even to have the right lens on your camera - sometimes it's too long or sometimes too small - can often come down to luck. But on that rare occasion when everything is in the right place you might be able to shoot the one great picture. Football is not foreseeable. You go to a game and you simply don't know what will happen in front of your lens. And this is what makes photographing this particular sport so fascinating for me.”
Salvatore Giglio - Giglio Studios, Italy
Salvatore Giglio is universally acknowledged as the top football photographer in Italy. He is the long-time photographer, and owner of the historical archive, of Juventus Football Club in Turin and is the personal photographer of Juventus and Italy footballer Alessandro Del Piero. He has photographed every World Cup and European Championship since 1980 as well as countless Serie A, UEFA Cup and Champions League matches. He has also photographed advertising campaigns for many sportswear companies and team sponsors. Today he operates Giglio Studios with his son, Marco.
Savatore recalls: “It was 9 March 1986, Juventus v Napoli - the showdown between Diego Maradona and Michel Platini, the two biggest stars in world football at that time. Napoli absolutely needed to beat Juventus in order to win the Scudetto - the Italian championship. ‘The picture’ would be the duel between the Argentine and the Frenchman. On assignment for the football weekly Guerin Sportivo, I prepared myself scrupulously for this event, checking and re-checking my equipment to make sure it was in perfect working order. I prepared myself mentally and physically. I dared not lose ‘the picture’. It would be a very difficult picture to take, since the two players played the same position and rarely came close to each other on the field.”
He continues: “I could solve this problem by shooting them together as they entered the field, but that wasn’t the picture I was looking for. I wanted something that told the whole story: the event, the personalities, the triumph and the defeat. Inside I knew that it would be very difficult, but I was convinced that I could do it. In a moment of profound solitude, that fraction of time arrived, Maradona and Platini together before my lens. There it was - the cover of Guerin Sportivo I had in my mind. After the match I had to drive from Torino to Bologna to take the film to the magazine. All the way there doubts kept coming into my mind while I just hoped that everything had functioned perfectly.”
“When I arrived, the editor-in-chief, Italo Cucci, asked me if I had a beautiful image for the cover. I wanted to say ‘yes’, but I told him we’d have to wait and look at the film. I was still overcome with doubt and feeling that something might have gone wrong.”
He adds: “When the film was developed I gave them to Signor Cucci without looking at it - I didn’t have the courage. After a while I heard him yell: ‘Giglio! Come here!’ I was in a cold sweat. I could see my career as a photographer coming to an end in a few more seconds. I went into his office and he said straightaway, ‘Bravo. You did it! You got the picture of Maradona’s surrender, the picture we were wanted for the cover.’ For the record, the game finished in a 1-1 draw. Juventus, and Platini, won the Scudetto. And 22 years later I still work for Guerin Sportivo.”
Alain Gadoffre - Onze Mondial, France
Alain Gadoffre is chief photographer of Onze Mondial, France’s leading football magazine. As a freelance photographer from 1983 to 1988 he collaborated with Onze, Le Journal du Dimanche, Canal Plus, Tennis Magazine and the French Rugby Federation. From 1988 to 1990 he was a staff photographer for Sipa Press. He joined the staff of Onze Mondial in 1990. He has covered five World Cups and five European Championships as well as three editions of the Copa America and three African Cup of Nations tournaments.
Alain reveals what he likes in a football photo: “Apart from technical considerations, such as good exposure, framing, clarity and depth of field, which do remain essential but are highly facilitated by technologies like autofocus, automatic exposure and instant visualization on the LCD screen, a great football photo, like any great sports photo, should bring an emotion to the viewer. I like to imagine that a great football photo can bring pleasure and emotion to the reader who takes time to look at it in all of its details. This is where the strength of still photography lies, in a world where moving images are constantly broadcast and immediately forgotten.”
He adds: “Emotion is not only linked to high level games, where it is heightened, but in games at every level, maybe even more so in children's games because of the natural candour that is common to that age. In football, particularly, one finds all the ingredients that make sport magic - the sheer athletic components of speed, power, agility, technical mastery, elegance, improvisation and strategy. And the full range of emotions, such as joy, fear, sadness, distress, friendship and-why not-even love. All of that in one place, the stadium, which in turn is also part of a football scenario that is always written in the present. This is the magic of football and that is why I like to capture it.”