FPA Member Profile

James Marsh – Freelance

All Images – James Marsh / Freelance / BPI

Career

Highlights

  • 2008-2011 – BA Hons in Photography, Wolverhampton University
  • 2009-2011 – Freelanced for the Express and Star Newspaper
  • 2011 -2014 – Freelance for Camerasport
  • 2014- Back Page Images/Shutterstock
  • FA Cup Finals (2)
  • League Cup Finals (3)
  • Europa League Finals (2)
Q&A with James Marsh

What came first, sport or photography?
“Photography definitely came first. Whilst being a big football and sport fan growing up, photography was one of the first things that really encapsulated my mind and had me hooked from the offset. It was only when the opportunity arose to combine both things that I knew it was a career I was desperate to pursue.”

Who did you look up to when you were young, and who has helped you most with your development?
“When I first got into photography I shot a lot of landscapes and documentary photos so photographers such as Ansel Adams and Martin Parr were my main studies at university. As I moved into the world of sports photography and I looked for inspiration, I loved the work of Eamonn McCabe. His style was so unique and different to anything I had seen before. Books such as ‘Visions of Sport’ and Tom Jenkins ‘In the Moment’ were both big inspirations when developing a style.

After photographing Stourbridge FC for a few seasons, Steve Box at the Express and Star Newspaper gave me my first opportunity to photograph Premier League football and develop as a photographer.

Having worked for Back Page Images since 2014, Javier Garcia gave me the opportunity to really pursue this as a career. To cover some of the biggest events around and further develop my skills. To push myself to be creative and look outside the box for that different angle.”

One change for the better to improve football photography for the next generation of photographers?
“Football grounds providing photographers with improved access. Giving them an opportunity to develop and produce a much more creatively diverse range of imagery.”

Favourite football ground to work at and why?
“As an Aston Villa fan my favourite football ground to work at for obvious reasons is Villa Park. I was born into a big Aston Villa supporting family, with my dad and grandad being Villa fans with my grandparents still living within a few miles of the stadium. I went to many games growing up and every time I work at the stadium, I have many memories that come flooding back. Work wise I always find the ground a great atmosphere and this can often provide such great subject matter with passionate fans and an out pouring of emotion.

When I’ve been lucky enough to travel abroad, the atmosphere and surroundings at Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion is pretty special.”

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
“Whilst covering Stourbridge FC as a teenager for local newspapers, the first time I ever saw my images in print and by-lined was still to this day, one of the biggest buzzes I think a young photographer can have. The feeling that instantly gets you hooked and drives you on to take better photos, knowing that people will now be seeing them.”

Favourite footballer to work with and why?
“In 2018 I worked with the EFL on a shoot with Jermain Defoe. It was a surprise shoot for the awarding of his 2008 League Cup Winners medal he missed out on getting with Tottenham after being transferred to Portsmouth before the final. I found him to be very down to earth and generous with his time making my job as the photographer a lot easier.

In terms of favourite footballer to photograph, I think it would be Christiano Ronaldo. Having photographed him over several years and been lucky enough to capture him at his best in the Bernabeu, there’s just a certain unpredictability and atmosphere around the place when he’s on the ball. The athletic shapes and movements he creates often make for great images.”

Canon, Nikon or Sony?
“Canon.”

First match photographed?
“I struggle to recall the very first match I ever photographed, but the first club I ever photographed at was Stourbridge FC. I attended my first game there back in around 2005 when I was 15. I became the club photographer for a few seasons whilst at college.

If you weren’t a photographer what would you be?
“If I wasn’t a photographer I think I would like to have been involved in design or architecture. Growing up I loved drawing and studied Graphic Design at college.”

Some advice for youngsters?
“Just keep taking photographs. Don’t worry about subject matter too much in the early days. Just keep shooting and build an understanding for your equipment. Study other photographers and why you like their work. Use this as motivation to develop your own skills and technique.”

Biggest lesson learnt?
“Everyone can be at the wrong end. Don’t get too down beat if a game doesn’t go your way.”

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