Photographers' Blog

Faces of football

By Kacper Pempel

Three weeks of the Euro 2012 adventure are already behind us. Three weeks of hard work, meeting thousands of people, driving thousands of miles and shooting thousands of pictures.

As a photographer based in Poland, I was assigned to cover not only matches but also news stories in Polish cities like Wroclaw, Poznan and Gdansk. So I had a chance to meet people from many different parts of Europe who made the journey here for the soccer fiesta. They were genuine football lovers and real soccer fans.

Fans with their faces painted in nationla colours

The Irish fans made the most remarkable impression. The party they threw for all three of their games was incredible and they showed they know how to have fun even when their team is losing. They transformed the Old Market in Poznan into a “green island”, singing and cheering their national team before and after matches and through the night. After a couple of hours sleep they would be back again to kick off the next day’s festivities.

Every Poznan citizen I spoke to – taxi drivers, waiters – said they had been surprised how nice the Irish were and they wouldn’t forget the example they set of how you should behave as a soccer fan on the road.

But it wasn’t only the Irish. I also spent a good deal of time with other nationalities from Groups A and C. I remember Croatian fans dancing with a huge flag and with a red and white board covering half of Poznan Old Market. They also came with a small band of musicians to accompany their national songs.

Russia’s hooligans

By Maxim Shemetov

Photographing a soccer match for the first time, I realized that shooting the fans can be more interesting than covering the game itself.

We all keep up with the destinies of football clubs and the careers of soccer players. There are many parts to soccer life, however, that rarely appear on TV and on the front pages of newspapers. It’s the life of people absorbed by the game – those inspiring exciting games, TV translations, as well as the construction of new stadiums.

Fan life is inseparable from the game itself, but there are certain aspects to soccer-fan culture that are rarely talked about. It’s a quiet closed-off world with its own unwritten rules and laws, concepts of respect and dignity. The community is very picky about who it lets inside. The fan culture is aggressive and resembles that of medieval knights at first sight. Physical power, fighting skills and determination in battle are often attributes of soccer fans.

Saving the Canon 400mm f2.8

By Murad Sezer

All photographers make plans to deal with possible clashes. They are ready to protect themselves and their equipment when covering a potential riot (or a May Day demonstration as I did a few days earlier). But you don’t expect to be doing that before a soccer match, or any other sports events.

While covering the May Day protests I don’t carry a camera bag or a laptop. I head out with my two camera bodies, spare memory cards, a gas mask and a wireless lan transmitter attached to the camera body to file my pictures – that’s all.. It’s more comfortable and easy to cover if any riots break out. But to cover a soccer match is a different story. If it’s a cup final or a decisive match like last Saturday’s Fenerbahce – Galatasaray Turkish Super League Super Final, we bring along much more equipment. I pack a hardcase with a laptop, 3 camera bodies, four lenses including a 400 mm f2.8 super telephoto, remote control devices to set up a camera behind the goal, network cables, a mini tripod etc. And usually we don’t even think about the safety of ourselves or our equipment. Normally during half time or at the end of the game we set our cameras down and rush to file pictures from the field or in the photographers’ working room.



SLIDESHOW: SOCCER FANS GONE WILD

However, in the shadow of the season-long match-fixing scandal, tension was high before the Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray derby. Fenerbahce had to win, while a draw was enough for Galatasaray to lift the championship trophy. Remembering when fans rioted two years ago after Fenerbahce missed out on the league championships at home, all the photographers were worried about the end of this match. But I didn’t see any photographer friends take any precautionary measures. It looked like they had no plan B, but I had one. My plan B was a padlock! The game started. It was a rough-and-tumble season finale. The two teams did not score and in the five minutes of injury time I felt that the match would finish 0-0. That would mean Galatasaray would become the 2011-12 Turkish champions, which may trigger some violence by disappointed Fenerbahce fans both on and off the pitch.