FPA Member Profile

Clive Mason – Getty Images
All Images © Clive Mason – Getty Images

Career

Highlights

  • 1988 – Freelancing for the Northampton Chronicle and Echo
  • 1990 – Freelancing for The Daily Mirror and The Sunday Express
  • 1994 – Allsport / Getty Images
  • FIFA World Cups (4)
  • UEFA Euro Champs (5)
Q&A with Clive Mason

Sports Journalists Association Awards:
Specialist Sports Photographer 2002 Winner
Sports Photographer Of The Year 2002 Winner
Sports Portfolio 2003 Winner
Sports Picture 2008 Winner
Olympic Portfolio 2016 Winner
Canon Sports Portfolio 2017 Winner
Specialist Sports Portfolio 2017 Highly Commended
Canon Sports Portfolio 2018 Highly Commended
Specialist Sports Photographer 2020 Winner
Sports Picture 2020 Winner
Canon Sports Photographer Of The Year 2020 Winner

British Press Photographers Association Awards:
Sports Picture 2005 Winner
Specialist Sports Portfolio 2009 Winner

What came first, sport or photography?
“For me, photography was and is first. Sport is a passion that has developed for me since discovering the thrill of shooting sports during the early stages of my career and subsequently, being close to sport, one’s interest develops, relationships begin and before you know it, you’re a sports photographer.”

What was your career path?
“My interest in photography began aged five when my father taught me how to take a black and white picture, process and print it.
Ironically (given my passion for shooting fast moving sports) the picture was of a giant tortoise called Jonathan who is still alive and is reputed to be the oldest living creature at 189 years old. 
My first dabble into professional photography was as a freelance photographer on my local paper in 1988, and after several attempts freelancing for various national publications, I joined Allsport/Getty Images in 1994 and remain there to this day.”

A favourite football memory?
“The FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany. Based in Berlin, just everything about the whole tournament was fantastic, weather, venues, matches, people, fans and pictures. A truly great event.”

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
“I would be unemployed. Should really have tried harder at school.”

First football match photographed? 
“A bit of park and Sunday league football on Northampton’s Racecourse between 1987-1990, then first league match was a League Division Four match between Northampton Town and Halifax Town on 29th September 1990.”

Who did you look up to when you were young, and who has helped you during your development?
“Being in Northampton, I’d seen calendars and books from the guys at Bob Thomas Sports Photography and was in awe of what they could do. I’m proud to say that those guys I looked up to are now colleagues, but more importantly friends. Names like Bob Thomas, Mike King, Clive Brunskill, Shaun Botterill, Dave Cannon, Dave Rogers and so on. There are the obvious legendary newspaper photographers too who helped me get off the ground, namely Monte Fresco but Chris Smith was also one who I was in awe of.”

Favourite footballer to work with?
“Haven’t worked too closely with many, to be honest, but whilst shooting official portraits for FIFA in Brazil in 2014 I had to shoot Portugal, so I remember being terrified at the idea of shooting Cristiano Ronaldo. He was first up, wandered in (early) chatted at length about we needed, and happily did what he was asked. He checked the pictures and was very happy, but he wasn’t happy with his hair. He asked if there was anything we could with it (meaning photoshop) so I said, I can cut if you like! He laughed but rather unsurprisingly declined my offer!!”

Biggest lesson learnt?
“Not sure I have learnt it yet, as the whole job is one huge learning curve. To say you learn by your mistakes is only a partial truth, if you want things to look the way you want them to, you have to push boundaries, pushing boundaries, by its nature can lead to failure. As long as the odds are stacked the right way and in your favour, a bit of failure means you’re trying your hardest, not failing!”

Canon, Nikon or Sony?
“Canon, Nikon, Canon and now currently and permanently Nikon.”

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