FPA Member Profile

Serena Taylor – Newcastle United FC
All Images © Serena Taylor / Newcastle United FC

Career

Highlights

  • 1995 – 1999 – Kodak Photographic Stores – Australia
  • 2000 – 2002 – Cruise Ship Photographic Manager – Worldwide
  • 2003 – Studio Photographer Venture Portraits, Leeds Catchlights Studio Photographer – Scotland
  • 2004 – Hamilton Island Assistant Photo Manager – Australia
  • 2004 – 2015 – NUFC Club Assistant Photographer
  • 2005 – 2016 – Imagenewcastle – Private Photography Business
  • 2014 – Freelance Getty Images Photographer
  • 2015 – Newcastle United FC Senior Club Photographer
  • Approximately 500 Newcastle United Fixtures
Q&A with Serena Taylor

What came first, sport or photography?
“Sport came first… I was a basketball player back in Australia, and picked up my first camera when I was 14 and started taking photos of my friends playing competitively. I had no idea what I was doing, and my photos back then were absolutely dreadful, but that was when I started my love of photography.”

Who did you look up to when you were young, and who has helped you most with your development?
“I had a friend whose brother was a commercial photographer when I was growing up in Australia, and I thought his work was amazing. But to be honest over the years I have had to develop my own style and learn for myself, usually on the job. I have been really lucky to have had Stu Forster from Getty Images give me loads of fantastic advice when I first started submitting to Getty as a contributor.

Andy Smith from Getty has been a huge influence and built my confidence in the development of my work. Looking at other well known photographers in the industry has made me aware of where my standards need to be, and that bar just keeps getting higher all the time.”

One change for the better to improve football photography for the next generation of photographers?
“To have a proper entry route into the industry for up and coming photographers.”

Favourite football ground to work at and why?
“Of course I am going to say St.Jame’s Park!!!

It’s my home club and what a fortress it is! There is plenty of room on either side of the goals for photographers to sit, and we are only a metre away from the action! The atmosphere is amazing and the people up north are very welcoming (well I am anyway haha). Of the facilities available to us as photographers I have to say that Tottenham Hotspur’s new ground is absolutely superb!”

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
“I have three that stick out in my mind the most, although there are so many more fond times at the club!

Winning the championship on the last day of the season at home when everyone had written us off, expecting that Brighton were going to take home the title… To win like that was such an amazing feeling. Standing on the sideline waiting the last few minutes for Brighton’s extra-time at Aston Villa to pass by. The atmosphere in the ground and the party afterwards was immense!

The second memory that was special was when we played Manchester United at home in 2019. Matty Longstaff made his debut and scored the winning goal and celebrated right in front of my camera. I have watched Matty come through the academy system over many years and it was just so special to see a home grown lad score the winning goal at the Gallowgate End on his debut!

And finally… We were playing Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium and I was sitting sideline just off the pitch. It was only a few minutes left in the match when I noticed one of our fans was becoming aggressive with a female steward. So I stood up and walked a few steps to try and calm the chap down from over the advertising hoardings. I heard the crowd get quite excited and turned just in time to capture Matt Ritchie score the winning goal and run towards me and the Newcastle fans.

I had absolutely no idea what was going on behind me as I was concentrating on photographing the players running towards us. Unbeknown to me, the crowd had spilled on to the pitch – mostly by accident – as many were starting to leave by that point, and there was a lot of pushing and shoving with the emotions of winning the match in the final minutes, This led to quite a number of fans falling on top of my equipment, thankfully only breaking my chair in the process.

Luckily for me I had got up to calm the chap down as I would’ve been sat on my chair and crushed otherwise! I am pretty sure there is a photo floating around on Getty’s of a fan being dragged away by a steward and there I am in the front snapping away with no idea of the carnage going on behind me!”

Favourite footballer to work with and why?
“All of our lads have unique characteristics and each of them are special in their own ways. I feel very privileged to be able to work with them all on a daily basis and have built their trust over many years of being at the club.

There are players who like to play up to the camera, which is exactly what I love, and then there’s others who are a little more reserved, and I can appreciate that as well! It’s finding the right balance. If I had to choose one only, I would have to say the easiest person would be Callum Wilson who has just joined. He just smiles, laughs at everything and is really easy to get along with.”

Canon, Nikon or Sony?
“I’ve been a Nikon Girl since I bought my first proper camera at the age of 18! More than 20 years ago now! (URGH!).”

First match photographed?
“I don’t remember the first match I photographed. However, I do remember the very first football match I had EVER been to in my life and it was actually my first day at work which was Newcastle v Man Utd at home in November 2004. I remember being shouted at down the tunnel by a steward. Alan Smith, who played for Manchester at the time, told him “It’s ok mate, she ain’t hurting anyone!”

I met Peter Beardsley (I had no idea who he was at that time, until my in-laws gasped when I told them, as they were fans!). I sat sideline with my colleague for the first half, and in the press box for the second half.

When Alan Shearer scored the equaliser in the 71st minute I jumped up and cheered, only to be hit on the head with a programme from behind by the Press Officer Hazel Greener and told I had to be unbiased in the press box (which I didn’t know). Unfortunately we eventually lost 1-3, with two goals in the 74 and 90 mins! It was a very surreal but memorable first day at work, and have been hooked ever since!”

If you weren’t a photographer what would you be?
“No doubt I would be a chef. It’s what I excelled in at school, and I love to bake and decorate cakes for my kids’ birthday’s, so probably a pastry chef at that!”

Some advice for youngsters?
“Never give up on your dreams. However hard you have to work, sacrifice many things to get to where you want to be, and persevere!”

Biggest lesson learnt?
“Don’t listen to negative people. I dreamt of travelling the world, taking photos and getting paid to do so. I was told not be daft as no one would pay me to do that.

Two years later I was working on cruise ships doing exactly that, which helped to build my skills both as a photographer and with people, which has helped to carve my path in photography today.

Being a club photographer I don’t just cover match action, there are a lot of other photography styles required, and with out all that ‘other experience’ I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

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