FPA Member Profile

Chris Brunskill – Fantasista
All Images © Chris Brunskill / Fantasisa

Career

Highlights

  • 2002 – Freelance Australia
  • 2004 – Sportsbeat Images
  • 2005 – Propaganda
  • 2006 – Back Page Images
  • 2010 – Getty Images
  • 2017 – Fantasista
  • FIFA World Cups (4)
  • UEFA Euro Champs (3)
  • Olympic Games Football (2)
  • Copa America (2)
  • Confederations Cup (2)
  • FIFA Club World Cup (4)
  • UEFA Club Finals (31)
Q&A with Chris Brunskill

What came first, sport or photography?
“Sport came first for me. I loved playing and watching everything, especially football. I had a season ticket at Goodison Park from the age of 13 onwards so have been going there regularly, first as a fan and now a sports photographer for over 30 years.

My interest in photography began when I was 18 and I travelled around Italy for six weeks with a 110 film camera shooting cities and also Calcio which was my big passion at the time. AC Milan v Inter match from the tribune in October 1995 is one of the first matches I attended with a camera and I remember looking at the photographers sat behind the goal thinking I’d like to do that one day.”

Who did you look up to when you were young, and who has helped you most with your development?
“Sports photography ran in the family, so Clive Brunskill was my main influence. I did a B-TEC in Photography at Ormskirk College and was always aware of what he was doing as he used to bring me a Bob Thomas calendar every year at Christmas and talk me through how he had captured his pictures that featured in it.

At the start of my career Javier Garcia and Jed Leicester were important in my development. Their agency Back Page Images covered the UEFA Champions League extensively and they showed a lot of faith in me early on which gave me the opportunity to travel and shoot football around Europe.”

One change for the better to improve football photography for the next generation of photographers?
“Better access with improved working positions for everyone, not just a select few. Professional football photographers should be viewed as a positive by clubs and encouraged/facilitated to create striking imagery which nowadays is seen in virtually every country on the planet.”

Favourite football ground to work at and why?
“It is very hard to pick just one stadium. I love any ground with an atmosphere, so some of my favourites are the San Paolo in Naples, Mestalla in Valencia, Borussia Dortmund, Marseille, Red Star Belgrade and La Bombonera in Buenos Aires, home of Boca Juniors. If I had to pick just one though it would have to be Goodison Park. A true old-school English football stadium, 20 mins from my house, decent positions, friendly people, nice food and Frank in the wire room!”

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
“Real Madrid v Juventus in a Champions League quarter-final a few years ago. Juventus were 3-0 up after 90 minutes and I had nothing from the match. Deep in injury time Real were awarded a controversial penalty which if converted would take them through. Cue bedlam on the pitch which resulted in Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus being sent-off in his last ever Champions League match. Just after he was shown the red card, and mainly because I had had a quiet night, I decided to switch ends to try to shoot the penalty-kick. At the Bernabeu this is not the done thing and not as easy as it sounds with space extremely limited behind the goals. I was climbing over the back of television cameras, tripping up on cables and being shouted at by other photographers all the while questioning my own sanity. When I finally got to the other end Cristiano Ronaldo was bouncing the ball on the penalty spot and I had to choose where to try and sit without blocking the fans behind or the other photographers at that end.

Luckily a Dutch friend was sat there and he moved up so I could squeeze in next to him. My heart was racing at this point and I just had a few seconds to pre-focus on the ball before Ronaldo started his run up and converted the penalty in what was now the 97th minute! Luckily Ronaldo scored and celebrated on our side, going crazy and ripping his top off in the process. With time against me due to the late finish, I now had to get back to my laptop at the other end to wire the pics amidst a raucous post-match celebration in the Bernabeu.

I raced up the touchline carrying all my equipment then scrambled back, pushing through all of the photographers behind the goal for a second time and with shaking hands wired a few low-res celebration pictures on the dodgy wifi. Half an hour or so later I was still buzzing, drinking beer in a bar outside the stadium with my Dutch friend when Carl Recine began texting me a near clean sweep of front and back pages from the English press of the very first picture I had managed to send when I got back to my computer. A good example of the fine margins involved and speed of communication in modern day sports photography!”

Favourite footballer to work with and why?
“Carlos Alberto. I once spent three days photographing the New York Cosmos when they came to Manchester for an exhibition match against Manchester United. I got to shake hands with Pele every day and he was a total gentleman but Carlos Alberto, Brazil’s World Cup winning captain in 1970, was even friendlier, very humble and happy to share lots of old stories from the past.”

Canon, Nikon or Sony?
“Started with Canon in 1996. My first camera was an EOS 500, then progressed to an EOS 5 with eye-controlled auto-focus before going through all the EOS 1-D’s. Switched to Nikon in 2008 for the D3 before returning to Canon in 2014.”

First match photographed?
“On the touchline it would have been Brisbane Strikers v someone in Australia sometime in 2002.”

If you weren’t a photographer what would you be?
“I love music, so I would’ve loved to become a professional musician.”

Some advice for youngsters?
“Don’t be afraid to ask established photographers for advice or guidance, most are happy to help as they have been in your shoes at some point in time.”

Biggest lesson learnt?
“Never leave your equipment in the boot of a rental car. I got robbed in Portugal in 2008 and lost 15k of brand new Nikon equipment which wasn’t insured from an unattended vehicle!”

Company Social Media
FPA225

© Copyright 2021 Football Photographers Association