FPA Member Profile

Ben Radford – Visionhaus
All Images © Ben Radford / Allsport / Getty Images / Visionhaus

Career

Highlights

  • 1983 – 1986 Freelance
  • 1986 – 1988 Chelsea FC Photographer
  • 1988 – 2006 Allsport/Getty Images
  • 2007 – 2010 Freelance
  • 2010 – Visionhaus
  • FIFA World Cups (5)
  • UEFA European Championships (4)
  • FA Cup Finals (18)
  • African Cup of Nations (6)
  • Asia Cup (1)
  • UEFA Champions League Finals (19)
  • PL Matches (2700 approx)
Q&A with Ben Radford

What came first, sport or photography?
“Sport. As a kid I loved sport, and I often played around with my dad’s camera, so it felt natural combining them at the first opportunity, which was photographing rugby at school. Around the same time the Observer and Sunday Times were giving Chris Smith and Eamonn McCabe great shows. Their work inspired me, and were important figures in making sports photography a reality as a career.”

Who did you look up to when you were young and who has helped you most during your development?
“Photographers Chris Smith and Eamonn McCabe, and John Wasbrough, former Sports Editor of the London Newspaper Group. Frank Nicklin at Hayters Sports News Agency, Dave Cannon gave me the opportunity at Allsport (now Getty Images), and Tony Graham taught me having very high standards was the only way to photograph football. For the last ten years my Visionhaus co-owner Gary Prior.”

Favourite football ground to work at and why?
“Close call between Arsenal and Tottenham. Both have great looking stadiums, with helpful staff, good backgrounds, good working positions, communications and photographer working areas.

I always liked the Olympic Stadium in Munich for its cool architecture and amazing floodlights, and the Camp Nou in Barcelona is an extraordinary amphitheatre in which to watch and photograph football.”

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
“Being tear-gassed outside a stadium in Port Harcourt, Nigeria… Being hit on the head by a piece of concrete thrown by a distraught Nigeria fan after his country lost the 2000 CAF Final to Cameroon in Lagos… Having my bag set on fire by a flare at the San Siro Stadium… Barely able to photograph the second half of an England U’21 match at Portman Road, Ipswich for laughing after watching Pudsey Bear trip and fall into the photographer pit during his half-time tour around the edge of the pitch. His head fell off, but it was probably his bear suit that saved him from injury!

My favourite memory is the Estonia v Scotland World Cup 1998 qualifying match in Tallinn in 1996. Estonia protested to a UEFA imposed change of the kick-off time by failing to show up to the game the next day. Scotland kicked off against nobody and promptly celebrated their walkover ‘victory’. The visiting Scotland fans were singing “there’s only one team in Tallinn”. The most bizarre, unlikely and memorable match I have ever covered.”

Favourite footballer to work with, and why?
“Bobby Robson, when Barcelona Head Coach – a complete gentleman. Allowed me to photograph Barca training, then showed me around the Camp Nou, the seaside suburb where he lived, the beach, his home, restaurants etc.”

Canon, Nikon or Sony?
“Canon until 2010, Nikon since”

First football match photographed?
“Gillingham v Chelsea in the League Cup, 1983, armed with a Canon A1 and a 135mm f2 lens. I printed the photos in my bedroom overnight, then took them to the Fulham Chronicle in West London the next morning. John Wasbrough – the sports editor – asked me to photograph Chelsea, Fulham and QPR from then on. Right time, right place…”

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
“I have the best job in the world, so absolutely no idea”

Best advice for youngsters?
“Decide who is very, very good at football photography, then look at as many of their images as you can. There is no excuse for not doing so, as so many agency websites are open to view. After that it’s down to your talent and application.”

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