FPA Member Profile

Ashley Western – Freelance
All Images © Ashley Western

Career

Highlights

  • 1983-86 London College of Printing
  • 1986-2013 Working in publishing, art directing and designing illustrated projects on sport, music, film, gardening, interiors and food
  • 2013-2017 Camerasport
  • 2017-2021 Freelance for Colorsport, PA, MB Media, JRFU, Wired, Prime Media Images, Frozen in Motion, Huw Evans Agency
Q&A with Ashley Western

What came first, sport or photography?
Sport – as an avid viewer and a keen but limited participant. Photography followed in my late teens but it took me another three decades before I realised I could marry the two together.

Who did you look up to when you were young, and who has helped you most with your development? 
Well I was hardly young, but a chance meeting wit Ian Cook behind the dead ball area at Rodney Parade whilst covering a rugby game between the Newport Gwent Dragons and Connacht was certainly the door opening – though I didn’t realise at the time – and I am very grateful to both him and Steve White at Camerasport for those early opportunities and instilling good work practice. Mark Pain, David Davies and Andy Cowie have all been particularly generous with their advice and support over the last few years.

One change for the better to improve football photography for the next generation of photographers? 
Greater access to alternative positions within the grounds – one of the benefits of ‘football behind closed doors’ during lockdown.

Favourite football ground to work at and why?
From a practical viewpoint, it’s hard to look past The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, it feels like a photographer has been involved in the design of the stadium, from power points and ethernet cables to stools and workrooms – not to mention the food and drink provided beforehand. The images from this stadium – especially in the evening games – look great too, as can also be said for The Emirates Stadium.

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
Not sure it’s a favourite, but in my first year shooting, I went to Brentford FC near the end of the season and due to a bizarre series of results on the final day, they were promoted with the inevitable pitch invasion. I hadn’t considered this even a remote possibility and had brought my LensBaby Muse as my short lens to play around with. Not a particularly successful afternoon.

Canon, Nikon or Sony?
Nikon

First match photographed? 
AFC Wimbledon v Charlton Athletic pre season friendly at The Cherry Red Stadium.

If you weren’t a photographer what would you be? 
I have always worked with images, either creating or taking and can’t see me functioning in any other environment. I guess I would try and ingratiate myself back into the world of publishing, in particular large format illustrated books.

Some advice for youngsters? 
Devour everything, it’s never been easier to look at stuff. Pour over books, look online, delve back into the history of this genre, there’s a thread. Shoot local games or your mates kicking a ball around, just keep shooting and build up a portfolio of work that you are pleased with – don’t include any image you are unsure of – people will always remember the weak image. Seek advice from your seniors or those who’s work you respect.

Biggest lesson learnt? 
However bad you think your day is going – missing images, forgetting kit, struggling with comms etc – you need to put that to one side. The story could still be about to happen – stay on it till the end. Oh, and do research beforehand

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