“Perfectionist is my Motivation” Gareth Copley
Asian Photography|October 2021
Gareth Copley is a Getty Images staff sports photographer located in the Potteries. For the past 15 years, he has specialised in cricket photography, working alongside the England cricket team. During that time, he has covered trips to New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the West Indies, India, the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, and South Africa. He has also extensively photographed three Ashes tours and the ICC Cricket World Cup along with the Olympic Games, Rugby World Cups, Commonwealth Games, Six Nations, Wimbledon Tennis Championships, World Athletics Championships, Rugby League World Cups, Paralympics, Australian Open tennis, and several International and Champions League football games. His career highlights include Huddersfield Town’s Championship playoff victory in 2017 and the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in 2014.
SANCHIT MISHRA

What inspired you to specialise in sports photography?

I think from a young age I’ve always wanted to be a photographer. I always enjoyed the magic of trying to capture any moment on film.

While studying a general photography course at college, I wrote to a lot of companies with the aim to try as many different disciplines of photography as possible. One of the places I gained my work experience was the local newspaper. It was here I got to cover my first football match and I was hooked straight away by the action and atmosphere of the event. I enjoyed the challenge of sitting there for the entire match and not being able to switch off because I needed to capture that one moment that told the story of the game which could happen in the blink of an eye.

What are the most difficult obstacles that sports photographers face?

From the outside, the life of a sports photographer might seem very glamorous but you have to sacrifice most of your evenings, weekends and holidays to cover sports events as they happen during people’s social time.

The main challenge of my job is the ever-changing weather, you can never seem to cover an event in the right sort of weather. You could be sat in the snow freezing, trying to cover a football game in the north of England. Or maybe you might be in 40° heat, photographing a cricket match in Galle, Sri Lanka with sweat dripping in your eyes, making it difficult to focus.

Keeping yourself comfortable and your camera gear working in ever-changing conditions is a year-round challenge.

What role does physical fitness play in the career of a professional sports photographer?

You do need to be fit to be a sport photographer. There have been many advances in camera equipment over the years but lenses are still heavy and you’ll always want the right lens to do your job. As a result, you often have to carry around lots of bags of cameras, lenses and various other bits of equipment.

You need to be prepared to work long days, often get to the venues a few hours before the crowds arrive to set up. And often you might end up being the last person to leave the ground after the game, when the players are all of an ice baths and recovery massages. After a long day of work, you will probably end up suffering from backache, sunburn or just get wet from the rain.

But if you’ve got the picture, that eases any pain.

Aside from the apparent distinction of capturing moving things, what distinguishes sports photography from other genres of photography (such as technique, angle, and issues)?

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