FPA Member Profile

Marc Aspland – The Times
All Images © Marc Aspland / The Times

Career

Highlights

  • 1983 – 1984 National Council for Training of Journalist Course, Sheffield
  • 1984 – 1987 Trainee photographer, Watford Observer, Westminster Press.
  • 1987 – Freelance, contract, staff sports photographer The Times.
  • FIFA World Cups (7)
  • UEFA Euro Champs (5)
  • UEFA Champions League Finals (14)
Q&A with Marc Aspland
What came first, football or photography?
“Photography. I first picked up a camera aged perhaps 12 or 13. I didn’t find photography, photography found me.”
 
Coming from a very small village on the outskirts of Rugby, I grew up playing rugby, football and cricket. I was obsessed with skateboarding and surfing, and was taken to Filbert Street by my Dad to support Leicester City but as a lifelong member of Leicester Tigers, we would religiously visit Welford Road also.
 
I began taking local football team group pictures for the Rugby Advertiser, developing and printing the black and white photos in my darkroom built by my Dad in our loft. And so the obsession began.”
 
Favourite football ground to work at and why?
“My favourite football ground has to be Camp Nou in Barcelona, as it is a rarity, being more beautiful when empty than when full of 110,000 fans.”
 
Who did you look up to when you were young and who has helped you most during your development?
“I think as photographers we all have people who have both mentored and inspired us during our careers. Firstly my neighbour, Bob Ingram, who handed me an Olympus Trip as a 12 year old and taught me how to mix, dev & fix, and print pictures.
 
Then without doubt I, like many others, owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the incomparable Paul Delmar of NCTJ, Sheffield. His sheer enthusiasm for photography has never been matched. My first mentor at the Watford Observer was Mr Mike Dellow, who taught me to ‘see’ differently when using my old and beloved Canon F1.
 
At The Times, and throughout my career, there are far too many names to mention as I am constantly inspired by other photographers, ranging from Chris Smith of the Sunday Times to Ansel Adams.”
 
If you weren’t a photographer what would you be?
“I would have liked to have chosen journalism instead of photojournalism. My great writing friends, armed with their quill pens are escorted to their heated seats in the press box, watch TV replays of the action and then file their copy. They then read every single word in the next day’s edition – without a semi-colon being sub-edited – and perhaps glance at the accompanying defining moment captured by a sports photographer, which always tells their 1,000 words each and every time.”
 
What awards have you won?
“I do not care for awards. I prefer to continue to strive to attain the levels I set myself and maintain the respect of only those I respect the most; this is my greatest award.”
 
Best advice for youngsters and biggest lesson learnt?
“Both of these can be answered together. Always be yourself, never follow the crowd. We all ‘see’ things completely differently. We are all unique as photographers.
 
Always trust in your own ability and always follow both your own instincts and natural ability.”
 
Canon, Nikon or Sony?
“I have only ever used Canon my whole career – for 36 years – from my beloved Canon F1 to EOS-1D X MKIII. I have been a Canon Ambassador for 12 years.”
 
First match photographed?
“Too many Sunday league fixtures in and around Rugby as a kid. At the Watford Observer, far too many games at Vicarage Road, home of Watford FC.
 
And when a lowly freelancer just trying desperately to get my toe in the door at The Times, I offered to do the football matches on a Saturday which the likes of Chris Smith, Ian Stewart and Chris Cole did not fancy – an abiding memory being sat at the Old Den, home of Millwall FC on a bitterly cold and wet winters day, enjoying the home fans reactions to me blocking their view!”
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