FPA Member Profile

Charlotte Wilson – Welloffside
All Images © Charlotte Wilson / Welloffside

Career

Highlights

  • 2011 – 2014 Birmingham University
  • 2014 –         Offside Sports Photography
  • FA Cup Final (2)
  • Women’s FA Cup Final (3)
  • FIFA Women’s World Cup (1)
  • UEFA Women’s Euro Champs (1)
  • UEFA Champions League (1)
Q&A with Charlotte Wilson

What came first, sport or photography?
“They were pretty much together – hand in hand. As I side-line and hobby I was involved with the Birmingham University student newspaper, but I decided I didn’t want to write because I was sick of writing for my degree. The newspaper were always looking for people to take news photographs around the campus – although that actually meant photos of university buildings – so I got pretty bored of that pretty quickly. With the newspaper in mind I joined the rowing club, and took some photos on the side when I could. In my third year I gave up rowing as a sport and would instead go on the support boats and photograph the teams as they practiced and competed. That led into covering other sports like football, lacrosse, fencing, rugby – whatever was going on that the newspaper wanted to report on.”

Canon, Nikon or Sony?
“Canon”

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
“The day I was offered a job at Offside I was also offered a teaching assistant job, but photography is what I chose. I didn’t really want to go into teaching, it’s just what people with English degrees tend to do. However I do really like books and used to work in Waterstones, so I would say something in publishing, as I have always loved children’s literature.”

One change for the better to improve football photography for the next generation of photographers?
“Better guidance for people coming into the industry in terms of the types of sports photography out there. Using newspapers, and the pictures being published in them as a reference isn’t very inspiring. The photos they use are no longer a great illustration of great sports photos, and having access to more inspiring images might help to bring talent through. Good pictures are out there if you look for them, but it would be good if there was some kind of directory where people could look at different photography. I spend most of my week surrounded by an amazing archive, and that’s certainly helped me go to events and approach them from a different angle. I might have a picture in my head and think what if I tried something like that today? It helps when looking for something different.”

Who did you look up to when you were young and who has helped you most during your development?
“Number one is obviously Mark Leech. He has really put the time into helping me. When I started it was the dark room equivalent, where I was going in for three days a week, organising the archive, scanning, looking at captions, working out stuff on the website. Without Mark I wouldn’t be in the position I am today, because he has invested a lot of time and effort. If you take someone who is new to the industry and are going to bring them on into a senior position you have to put the hours in. He did, and here I am. Also, Simon Stacpoole and Marc Atkins, who I also worked worth at Offside, and definitely Cath Ivill, who was so warm, open and welcoming. When I was first on the scene I was slightly ignored, which might happen on the first days of any new job, but she was the friendliest face I saw. We spent a month at the UEFA Women’s Euros together in Holland, and it was great. She was really good for me in terms of my photography, because she has a similar mindset to Offside. Plus she’s a lovely person and very easy to get on with. She is very good at finding time for people and giving advice, regardless of who they work for. Getty have done really well to get her.

And of course Gerry Cranham. I am surrounded by his photography almost 24/7, and it’s so easy to get lost in his brilliance. I could spend days scanning and looking at his photos!”

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
“Something that sticks in my head was during the last FIFA Women’s World Cup, when England played Cameroon. I was up in the tribune, and I decided this was the best game ever, as Cameroon kicked the daylights out of England and it was really funny! When I’m taking photos I’m a fan of good old fashioned shithausery, and I thought it was great. Maybe the women think they have more to prove, but they crash into each other and get straight back up. I really enjoyed that game, and from up in the tribune you can see everything. I had a great time!”

First football match photographed?
“I’m pretty sure it was Leyton Orient vs. MK Dons. Leechie sent me down to do Dele Alli when he was playing for the Dons in 2014. He had a shaved head then.”

Favourite football ground to work at and why?
“I’ve only been there once, but I really enjoyed – St. James’ Park. I love the proper atmosphere, and how high it is. If you can get yourself up all those stairs, the view from the top is immense. You can get some nice dappled light, and also I just quite enjoyed Newcastle, as everyone seems friendly. I like Old Trafford also, with that old football vibe, and obviously as a West Ham United fan, Upton Park, which is sadly no more.”

Biggest Lesson Learnt?
“Keep an eye on what is going on off the ball, as it can often be more interesting or newsworthy.”

Company Social Media
Personal Social Media
FPA225

© Copyright 2021 Football Photographers Association