FPA Member Profile

Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA Sports Photo Agency
All Images © Robbie Jay Barratt / AMA Sports Photo Agency

Career

Highlights

  • Huddersfield Town trainee photographer
  • 2013 Darkroom technician 
  • 2015 AMA Sports Photo Agency
  • UEFA Champions League Final (1)
  • FIFA World Cup (1)
  • FIFA Confederations Cup (1)
  • Man City and Man U tour of USA (1)
Q&A with Robbie Jay Barratt

What came first, sport or photography?
“Football, football mad. Weirdly, ’cause no one in my family is sporty or creative! The only person I knew of in my family who liked taking photos was my Grandpa.”

What was your career path?
“I originally wanted to be a journalist. I was quite good and enjoyed English language at school, not that you’d believe it now… But I started my creative path at sixth form in high school, where we only had one camera in the art department. There was no specific photography course to follow there, so I left to go and focus purely on photography at Bradford College, at where I did a two year course. During the first year there, aged around 16 or 17, I made contact with the Huddersfield Examiner (after many emails without reply, I persisted)… This was after I had been shooting the open age team I was playing for at the time week in week out. This was the first time I sacrificed playing football to shoot it.”

“From a couple of experience gaining matches with the Huddersfield Examiner, they put me in contact with the Huddersfield Town club photographer, John Early. I worked alongside John for the next three or four seasons travelling home & away. I also worked at Toby Carvery pulling pints, and then a job as an art technician at my old high school (the hours there helped me a great deal).”

“I was getting to a point where I knew I needed to take a step up and started to look around as to what the industry was truly all about. I passed my driving test a week after my 21st birthday – I knew outside of the club photography world it was a whole new ball game, but a ball game that I knew would suit me far better – I can’t stand structure and repetitiveness. I needed to be travelling to different stadiums and seeing different places. I also needed someone who was willing to put the effort into guiding me, and constructively and positively criticising my work, and truly drilling into me what was required to become a full time professional photographer.

This was when I came across Matthew Ashton at AMA. We exchanged emails, got chatting & the rest is history.”

Who did you look up to when you were young and who has helped you most during your development?
“During my college years I looked up to Stuart Roy Clarke a lot, his different view of stadiums and football fans really opened up my mind beyond the football pitch. I think at the time I couldn’t afford a digital camera, so I was shooting all my college work on a second hand 35mm SLR. I was also inspired by Stuart to purchase a 120 TLR camera. Working on both these cameras taught me a great deal about moving your feet and looking for different angles rather than just lazily zooming in and out. I think at the time it also gave me a bit of hope as I had absolutely zero knowledge of how to get into a football ground at the time to work. I had zero idea of what agencies were, I was completely in the dark about it all.

Matt has by far helped me the most during my development. I owe a lot to him for taking me under his wing, having the balls to throw me in the deep end and allowing me to make mistakes (I’ve made a lot, and still continue to do so). To rip me to shreds and then pick me back up again. My first year with AMA was really tough. Trying to learn new things, get better and also do another job on the side. At times I would be shooting a game midweek and not getting back till midnight, and then having to be up at 6am to go and start the art technician job. I had zero social life at a time and age when my life should have been full of nightclubbing! But Matt always kept pushing me to want more and improve.”

Have you won any awards?
“I prefer rewards to awards. Shooting my first FIFA World Cup at the age of 23? That’ll do, ta.”

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
“My favourite football memory has to be Huddersfield Town winning the play off final in 2017. Beyond my wildest dreams… We headed back to Huddersfield and got pissed with David Wagner, just glorious.”

Favourite football ground to work at and why?
“Tough one this. I’d generally be biased and say The John Smiths Stadium for the access, friendly people and ease to work. But it has to be the San Siro doesn’t it? I’m incredibly lucky and fortunate to have shot at many grounds around the world, but it has to be the San Siro. You can smell the history when you walk in there, it’s a brutalist architectural delight. It’ll be a very sad day when it gets demolished.”

Biggest lesson learnt?
“Make friends in the press room, because when you leave your batteries on charge on your desk at home you’ll be screwed without them.”

Canon, Nikon or Sony?
“Canon.”

Best advice for youngsters?
“Work hard, talk to people, want to be educated. Ask questions and listen. Get out there and shoot, shoot, shoot. The more you shoot, the more you learn.”

First football match photographed?
“First ‘proper’ match was March 5, 2013 – Huddersfield Town vs. Middlesbrough. To this date stlll the foggiest conditions I’ve ever shot in. I had to borrow a camera from a friend at college. A Canon 7D and a random 70-300mm as I could not afford anything else!”

One change for the better to improve football photography for the next generation of photographers?
“To be respected more as a whole. We need to guarantee work for the next wave coming through. Youth need to gain experience, and be educated properly by the right people.”

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