FPA Member Profile

Ed Sykes – Freelance
All Images © Ed Sykes / Mooneyphoto / TheFA / Back Page Images / Action Images / Reuters

Career

Highlights

  • 1997 – 1999 University of Huddersfield Batchelor of Arts – Photography
  • 1999 – 2006 Photographer – Mooney Photo Ltd
  • 2006 – 2017 Freelance photographer – Back Page Images, Action Images/Reuters
  • 2017 – Northedge Photography Ltd – Contracted photographer for Action Images/Reuters
  • FIFA World cups (1)
  • UEFA European Championships (2)
  • FA Cup Finals (6)
  • UEFA Champions League finals (1)
Q&A with Ed Sykes

What came first, sport or photography?
“I was always a fan of sport as a kid, and watched Huddersfield Town from the age of ten when they were in Division Three. I watched my first game – a 1-1 with Blackpool – from the back of the old Main Stand after getting a free ticket from school, and was hooked. It was always exciting to see a photograph of Huddersfield Town in ‘Shoot’ or ‘Match’ magazine in those days. I received my first ‘proper’ camera for my 18th birthday, and I went on to study photography at art college before university.”

Who did you look up to when you were young, and who has helped you most with your development?
“I’ll always be grateful to Simon and Julian at Mooney Photo who took me on during my final year at university and launched my career in photography. They taught me the ropes and were undoubtedly the biggest help in my career. I’m also grateful to Javier Garcia for his guidance after becoming freelance, and more recently, all at Action Images for their support.”

One change for the better to improve football photography for the next generation of photographers?
“It’s great to see a lot of talent coming through in the next generation of photographers. Young people coming into this industry need to be supported for their dedication in making sports photography their full time profession.”

Favourite football ground to work at and why?
“It’s always nice to work at a ground with great facilities and positions. Allianz Arena springs to mind as one of my favourites in the past. But it’s the atmosphere that makes it, and I like a ground which has a bit of character and is in itself very photogenic . A low angle on the pitch is always great too – Etihad, Celtic Park…” 

Favourite footballer to work with and why?“I once had the privilege of flying on a private jet to Malawi with a few England players to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS among Malawian youths. Rio Ferdinand was always friendly and approachable despite having lost in the FA Cup final on penalties just hours earlier. The things we experienced on that trip put things into perspective. It was nice to be remembered by him when working with him once again a few years later.”

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
“Being on stage with Huddersfield Town in front of a packed St George’s Square as they celebrated promotion to the Premier League is a special memory. Also, I once got to shout at Sam Allardyce in his own office.”

Canon, Nikon or Sony?
“Canon.”

First match photographed?
“An FA Sunday Cup match at Albion Sports, Bradford. They went on to lose in the final that season.”

If you weren’t a photographer what would you be?
“I’d like to think I’d be working in some other form of visual art. I’d also love to own my own little bicycle repair shop!”

Some advice for youngsters?
“Make friends in the wire room. There are times when you’ll need help – we all do. And don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

Treat whatever level game you’re coving with the same effort and passion. I once got told by a well respected photographer that this was one of the reasons I was so valuable as a freelancer.”

Biggest lesson learnt?
“Do a little research into who you may be photographing. I once shared a taxi with a man and got on to talking about former Huddersfield Town player Andy Booth and his move to Sheffield Wednesday. Embarrassingly it turns out I was talking to a man who knew a lot about that move – former Wednesday chairman Dave Richards.”

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