FPA Member Profile

Simon Stacpoole – Offside
All Images © Simon Stacpoole / Offside

Career

Highlights

  • Photography Degree at UCLAN, Preston
  • 2006-2020 Offside Agency
  • FIFA World Cups (3)
  • UEFA Euro Champs (1)
  • FIFA Confederations Cups (3)
  • UEFA Finals (8)
Q&A with Simon Stacpoole

Career Path?
“I was one of those rare photographers who did a degree. I liked photography and I liked the idea of doing three years at uni. I went to Preston, which is one of the reasons I’m in the North West, otherwise I’d still be in sleepy Suffolk, or possibly North London.”

“After Preston I hassled agencies for work, or anything I could get my hands on before Mark Leech gave me a chance at Offside.”

First match photographed?
“I think it was Grimsby Town v someone else. I was sent to cover it for a News of the World commission.”

What came first, sport or photography?
“Sport for me. I’ve been playing sport since I was about five. I played hockey for East of England, and carried on playing all through uni. I only finished when I was 22, and have just become the secretary of my local club, where my wife still plays.”

Who did you look up to when you were young, and who has helped you most during your development?
“Mark Leech has got to be at the top of the list of people who have helped me along the way.

When I looked at bylines I was always attracted to Al Bello and John Gichigi’s boxing, and the ‘prettiness’ of Bob Martin’s pictures.”

Any awards?
“I’ve been nominated for a number of awards over the years. In 2014 I won the Picture Editors Guild Sports Photographer of the Year.”

Favourite football ground to work at and why?
“I’m a big fan of the Nou Camp.”

Favourite footballer to work with? 
“One of the nicest guys I’ve worked with is Moussa Sissoka. I photographed him at a hotel in Newcastle for the cover of L’Equipe magazine. The hotel had really nice brickwork, so I suggested we take some pictures up a fire escape in the courtyard at the back of the hotel. He asked if I needed a hand with the lights, “well, if you’re offering” I said, so he carried a couple of big Bowens lights up the fire escape for me. I kept thinking “please don’t fall over!”

Canon, Nikon or Sony?
“Canon”

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
“My first World Cup Final – Netherlands v Spain in South Africa in 2010.

Also, Vladimir Putin and his security guards blocked me for the trophy lift at the 2018 World Cup Final in Russia. I’d spent six weeks travelling around the country shooting the tournament, then get blocked for the very final moment by the Russian President.”

One change to improve football photography for the next generation?
“Remove the constant restrictions. You look back 30 years and how photographers were able to do much more, with no one standing in their way or trying to stop them. I only think of it from that perspective because I’ve constantly got Leechy’s Instagram posts reminding me how good it used to be.”

Any advice for young people coming into the industry?
“You’ll get plenty of knock backs, so just believe in your own ability. If you’re good enough, you’ll succeed.”

If you weren’t a photographer what would you be?
“There’s a good chance I’d be in the Finance Industry, which is what my dad did. He had his own company, so I’d probably have followed in his footsteps.”

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