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Canon and UEFA EURO 2012TM

July 2012

For me, the matches at EURO 2012 weren’t that exciting until the final, which was one of the best I saw, even if it was clear Spain was going to win. It was a massive operation for Reuters. We had eight photographers there and a master plan for the game, should it go to extra time and penalties. So, all the photographers knew where to go and what to do.

I was in the lucky position to get seat number 1, which is really rare and very close to the corner flag next to the Spanish fans. It gave me a good angle on the goal, although it didn’t really come into play until the second half.

As well as capturing the reactions of the Spanish players, I also got the Italian team’s dejection. From my position, I remember firing off a few frames just before a corner came in. The Italians were waiting for the cross and they looked completely devastated. They were 3-0 down.

This is journalistic photography for a news agency. I was trained to take pictures that tell stories so, by that time, it was clear the Italians were going to lose. The Italian papers were probably going to use one picture of the Spaniards lifting the cup and the rest would be of the Italian team’s dejection. So, as those scenes happen during the match, it is important you shoot them.

EURO 2012 offered up lots of important shots. For instance, I was asked to shoot a Poland public training session just after the team’s opening match. Everyone was in a great mood and children had brought footballs along to be signed. The shot I particularly liked was of the children through the iron bars because it showed their passion for the game without a ball being kicked.

I shot it using my EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM [lens] with an EF1.4x III Extender. The new [Canon] extenders are excellent because you can really use them – the quality is that good. I like the f/2.8 [aperture] with the shallow depth-of-field and atmosphere it produces, but if you have to shoot over longer distances, it is really handy to have a reliable 1.4 [extender], especially on a full-frame camera.

A more conventional sports image was of [Portugal’s] Cristiano Ronaldo and a perfect overhead kick. It’s Ronaldo. It’s a superstar. As someone who loves football and loves photographing football, this is the shot you want to take. I shot it in continuous mode, which usually means you get one or two frames with the ball in the shot, but this time I got four frames, and that was down to the speed of the 1D X and the stability of the autofocus. It was amazing.

Biografie: Kai Pfaffenbach

Kai Pfaffenbach

Hailing from Germany Kai Pfaffenbach has worked for Reuters since 1996 and has been one of agency’s senior photographers since 2005. Kai has shot four FIFA World Cup Final tournaments, and UEFA EURO 2012TM was the fourth European Championship tournament that he has covered. As well as covering sporting events he has also shot conflicts in Iraq and the Middle East, papal funerals and the royal wedding of HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011. Tom Szlukovenyi, Reuters’ Global Pictures News Editor, said of Kai: “…few can match him when it comes to shooting sports, especially soccer.”

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