FPA Member Profile

Andy Hooper – Daily Mail
All Images © Andy Hooper / Daily Mail

Career

Highlights

  • 1981 -1984 Salisbury College of Art
  • 1984 -1989 Freelance Windsurfing/Sailing photographer
  • 1989 -1991 Zooom Photographic motor racing agency
  • 1989 – 1992 Mail on Sunday
  • 1992 – Daily Mail
Q&A with Andy Hooper

What came first, sport or photography?
“Photography. I wanted to be a photographer from the moment my dad said I could try out his Kodak Retina camera when I was about 12 years old. I was a member of the school photography club and I built a darkroom in the attic of my parents house to use in the holidays. After three years at Salisbury Art College studying photography – mainly studio and reportage – I changed to sports photography in the last few weeks of the course after combining my passions for windsurfing and photography.”

Who did you look up to when you were young, and who has helped you most with your development?
“My parents bought the Daily Telegraph and I followed all their sports photographers work, but Tony Henshaw was my favourite. Every day he seemed to produced a new, exciting action picture better than the day before, and all with manual focus and on film!

I didn’t get much help after leaving college, and after freelancing for various windsurfing magazines I finally found a home at The Mail on Sunday, where Tim Leith – the Sports Picture Editor – helped and encouraged me. They would throw you in the deep end, and one of the first football games I shot for them was Millwall v West Ham. I remember them phoning me to tell me to go outside and photograph the fans fighting in the streets. The game was a 3pm kick-off in December, so it was dark outside by the time the fans came screaming out. I learnt a lesson very quickly when I took my first picture using my flash gun, alerting the fighting fans to were I was standing!”

One change for the better to improve football photography for the next generation of photographers?
“Giving us more varied remote camera positions. During Lockdown we have been able to fix remote cameras up in new positions around some of the stadiums and it’s led to some new and different pictures.”

Favourite ground and why?
“The San Siro. The atmosphere, the flares, flags, noise – it is so theatrical. Having to dodge the oranges being thrown from the home fans way up at the top of the stadium towards the visiting team as they leave the pitch doesn’t happen anywhere else.”

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
“I once went with Chelsea to Tromso in Norway, which is inside the artic circle for a European Cup Winners Cup game. The first half was fine, then I went off to wire my pictures in the stand at half-time, as usual. In the fifteen minutes of half-time it started to snow, and I came back out and couldn’t find my cameras because it had snowed so heavily. They carried on playing in the heavy snow with groundsmen brushing the snow off the lines on the pitch whilst the game was still going on. You could only see 30 feet, so no one other than the footballers knew what was happening.”

Favourite footballer to work with?
“I spent a week with Philippe Coutinho and his family as his transfer to Barcelona for a 120million unfolded, including travelling with him on his private jet. They made me feel like one of the family and were humble despite the incredible circumstances they found themselves in.”

Canon, Nikon or Sony?
“Nikon”

If you weren’t a photographer what would you be?
“A farmer.”

Best advice for youngsters?
“Practise, Practise, Practise. Make mistakes, try new ideas and work on your soft skills. Communicating with your subject and getting them to agree to your idea is an important part of the job.”

Biggest lesson learnt?
“Do a job you love.”

Personal Social Media
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