FPA Member Profile

Clive Brunskill – Getty Images

All Images  © Clive Brunskill / Allsport / Getty Images

Career

Highlights

  • 1980-81 O & A Level Photography
  • 1981-82 City & Guilds in Photography all at the Southport College of Art & Design
  • 1982-1993 Bob Thomas Sports Photography
  • 1993 – Allsport and now Getty Images
  • FIFA World Cups (5)
  • UEFA Euro Champs (3)
  • FA Cup Finals (12)
  • UEFA Champions League Finals (9)
  • Women’s UEFA Champions League Finals (1)
Q&A with Gareth Copley

Canon, Nikon or Sony?
“It was Nikon from 1982 to 2003, then a Canon system from 2003.”

What came first, sport or photography?
“Sport came first, as I was skateboarding in Southport as a 13 year old. I was captivated with photography once I saw sports action photographs taken by another skateboarder, which he had processed and printed in black and white at home. I was totally hooked from that moment on and went on to have my first camera, a Russian Zenith E for my 14th birthday.”

Tell us about your career…
“I went to Southport College in September 1980 at 16 and did O Level and A level photography over the two years. During my second year I was asked if I wanted to do a one year intense City & Guilds course in photography which takes four years normally.

As I was taking the final exams wondering just how and where I was going to get a job, I entered some football photographs in to the FA Young Football Photographer of the Year competition.

I got a call as I took my final exam and was told that I had won! The prize was a day out at Wembley with the then England photographer Bob Thomas to shoot England’s last friendly against Holland before departing for the 1982 World Cup Finals in Spain.

I also won a Pentax camera system, which at the time seemed amazing.
The rest is history, as they say. I worked as a darkroom printer for the whole of the 1982 FIFA World Cup, developing and printing films flown back from Spain, and delivering prints by hand to the newspapers.

I was offered the full-time position in the darkroom in August 1982, and a chance to shoot soccer at the weekends, which was worth working 12 hours a day developing and printing from Monday to Friday!
I worked with Bob Thomas Sports Photography for 11 years, and left in 1993.

Tony Duffy and Bob Martin had asked if I would be interested in joining what was then the world’s best sports photographic agency – Allsport – which became Getty Images Sport in 1998, and I am still there to this day.”

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
“The 2005 UEFA Champions League Final – Liverpool v AC Milan. The most incredible comeback ever, though almost overtaken in 2019 by the Liverpool v Barcelona 2nd leg match at Anfield. Both matches a true reminder of why the world loves football so much!”

First football match photographed?
“My first match as a professional photographer was Aston Villa v Sunderland, on Saturday 28th August 1982.”

Best footballer to work with?
“David Beckham, because he always loved having his picture taken!”

Favourite football ground to work at, and why?
“Anfield. The atmosphere is unbelievable and takes me back to when I went as a boy every time I visit.”

Biggest Lesson Learnt in the business?
“You’re only as good as your last picture! And with regard to the business itself nothing stands still. The industry has moved so fast in the last 30 years, it’s been one long continuous learning curve.”

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