Photographers' Blog

Editing the Euro 2012

By Wolfgang Rattay

If you’re really interested in understanding how we at Reuters work as a team across Europe to make sure that the right pictures from the Euro 2012 soccer championships arrive in time at hundreds of online sites and the next day in the papers, read this insight. You will understand that everyone in the team is an important cog in the machine and that not everything is someone sitting in the right corner of the pitch and triggering the camera’s shutter. If you read until the end, you will be rewarded with Amanda’s secret “spell-checker” recipe. It’s worth it — but only if you don’t have any health issues with your stomach.

SLIDESHOW: BEST OF EURO 2012

At each game we have five photographers assigned to cover the match. Four are seated, preferably, in each far corner of the pitch near the corner pole and the fifth shooter has an elevated position in the middle of the tribune – more or less at the same position as the main TV cameras. The ‘tribune photographer” shoots with three cameras. Two cameras are equipped with a 70-200mm zoom lens and aimed at both penalty boxes to make sure we have the image that tells the story of the game. This can be a goal, a penalty or a disallowed goal like in the England-Croatia match. The third camera is hand-held with either a four, five or six-hundred mm lens to shoot clear action (with green grass and no advertising boards), reactions of coached players and what ever else happens on the pitch.

The pitch shooters have to operate three hand-held cameras with 400/500 or 600mm, one with a 70-200mm zoom and a third body with a 16-35 in case there’s a goal celebration just a meter in front of the photographer. On top of this, the pitch photographer has to trigger a foot-switch on a fourth (sometimes fifth camera) that is connected to a goal camera that is positioned just a yard or so behind the goal. Look for the cameras set-up behind the goal mouth next time it appears close on TV. These 19 cameras at least, for each game adds up to an average minimum of 4,000 to 5,000 frames that someone has to look at. One of these “someones” is me. But there is also another editor involved that is as important (if not more) as the photographer. This is the person known as the processor.

Let me explain how the Photographer-Editor-Processor chain works; by using the internet and Reuters advanced software called Paneikon.

As an editor I sit in the warm, cosy and most importantly dry office in Berlin and look through the internet at the images of two photographers sitting on each side of the pitch, while another editor takes the opposite side and, a third editor looks at all remote and tribune cameras. The first usable action images of a match arrive about two minutes after kick-off and then the flow of pictures doesn’t stop until the final whistle. I look at thumbnails of the images and decide which are best. The image then arrives within seconds in the systems of our clients across the world and will later show up on pages like the Reuters galleries.

To my friend Vladimir Lenin

By Charles Platiau

When I arrived in Donetsk, southern Ukraine, two weeks ago I didn’t think you would be one of the best friends I made during my stay. Nobody speaks English here, even if my hotel is called “the Liverpool hotel” and plays Beatles music all day long everywhere except, thoughtfully, in my room. I don’t speak Russian either, but I soon learned Vladimir Ilyich is how locals fondly refer to you, Mr Lenin. Your statue dominates the landscape of this city’s downtown. You remain in full view in contrast to the advertising you stand opposite; maybe people even remember what you stand for.

It’s hard to judge a place in such a short time but I wonder what Donetsk looks like when there isn’t such a big event in town. The city is quiet, very clean and there are more advertising boards than in most western countries. All the ugliest buildings are now covered with banners to advertise Japanese goods or to hide the worst aspects of the city.

Later I saw this big car advertisement had gone and residents behind it could walk on their balconies again.

Soccer and History

By Tony Gentile

It’s not the first time I have covered an international sport event and a soccer tournament. I was in Germany for the FIFA world cup in 2006, in Austria and Switzerland for Euro 2008 and now I’m covering Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. Every time, I’ve followed Italy’s soccer team. It’s a interesting job but sometimes it can be repetitive. You spend about one month with the same people, your photo and text colleagues and the players. Everyday you cover a training session and news conference and travel around the country to cover the matches. C onstantly you have to try to find a different picture as well.
But sometimes something different turns up, in Poland we left soccer briefly and turned to history.

Like other national soccer teams, Italy also visited the Auschwitz former Nazi death camp in Oswiecim.

For me it was not the first time in Auschwitz, I had been there in 2000 to do a short movie with some students and I remember it as a shocking experience. Hundreds of people walking in the camp transform the area into a touristic place, but only when you concentrate your ear on what the guide says and see, for example, the shoes of thousands of babies killed by the SS a shiver runs down your spine, you start to feel part of the history, especially if the guide is a survivor of the Holocaust.

It’s been a hard day’s night… and I’ve been working like a ‘tog

By Darren Staples

You off again?” people say. “Ukraine? The Euros? You’ve got the best job in the world haven’t you?”

So here I am, the man with ‘the best job in the world’, about to have a needle stuck in my backside by one half of the Mario brothers.

It wasn’t meant to be like this.

As a day, it started like many others; up at 5am to catch my fourth of eleven flights during this tournament, bleary-eyed and grey I helped fellow photographers Eddie Keogh, Alexander Demianchuk and technician Magnus Storm load the taxi to the roof with our equipment.

Shooting practice

By Petr Josek

Yeah, yeah, yeah 4-1 loss for the Czechs against Russia in Wroclaw. The Russian fans left the city for Warsaw after that and ended up fighting Polish supporters. Wroclaw is calm and quiet. Here the fans like each other and the city center is calm and full of friendly faces. The spotlight moves on, but there is still work to be done.


After the next round the Czechs became a decisive opponent for Poland in advancing from Group A. Its a championship and the teams need to keep sharp, away from the headlines, and for photographers there are images to be made that tell the story. Eyes on the prize.

As in previous EURO competitions I’ve been assigned to cover the team, and shooting training is a hell of a lot of work, even when everyone else is looking elsewhere. Let’s see what they look like even when there is “No Coverage” in the picture planner.

Soccer SWAT team

By Peter Andrews

Through my Polish police contacts, I learned that members of various SWAT teams and the border guards would hold a special training exercise in the town of Zamosc. The exercise was conducted as part of preparations by the Polish special forces leading up to the EURO 2012 soccer tournament, to be held in Poland and Ukraine this summer. This training event was to be observed by various representatives from different countries.

As I arrived at the military training ground, I realized that some of the instructors were my old friends whom I have known for as many as eighteen years. It helped me immensely to be accepted by people who were being trained. The forces were divided into three teams of SWAT and border guards being trained on different public transport vehicles, in various techniques of approaching a hijacked bus followed by mastering the techniques of entering and rescuing hostages from inside the vehicle.

Witnessing dozens of similar exercises I’m always amazed by the speed and agility with which these men can move. It also helps me understand how much time, effort and dedication they have to invest to be able to work with such precision.

A glance into Germany’s dressing room

By Kai Pfaffenbach

Football, or “soccer” for our American friends, is the top sport in Europe. With the Euro 2012 tournament in Ukraine and Poland later this year we are expecting another sports highlight just before the Olympics in London. Sixteen teams will fight for the European title and after their good performance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Germany is amongst the favorites for this event. Title holder and World Champion Spain, Holland and France are on the bookmaker’s shortlists as well.

With the big tournament to come I had asked the team press spokesman a while back if I could get some behind the scenes access on Germany’s road to the final in Kiev. It was a big surprise when I finally got the opportunity granted to shoot the set up in the dressing room for an upcoming game. Almost 40,000 spectators in the newly renovated stadium of Bremen were expecting a great test match between Germany and France. By that time I was inside the catacombs of the stadium where even TV is usually banned from. You will never make it past all the security standing around without very special permission.

Entering the dressing room, or should I say “dressing hall”, was really different to any other sport venue I had seen before. Each and every player has his own personal space; one match dress on a hanger, a second one lying on his seat.