FPA Member Profile

Lee Smith – Action Images / Reuters
All Images © Lee Smith – Action Images / Reuters



  • HND Higher National Diploma at Newcastle College of Art
  • 1997-2002 Stewart Bonney News & Sport Agency
  • 2002-Present Action Images/Reuters
  • FIFA World Cups (4)
  • FIFA Women’s World Cups (1)
  • UEFA Euro Champs (3)
  • FA Cup Finals (4)
  • UEFA Champions League Finals (2)
  • Europa League Finals (8)
Q&A with Lee Smith

Canon, Nikon or Sony?

What came first, sport or photography?
“I was watching football from a very early age. My dad took me to watch my beloved Sunderland at Roker Park from the age of six, and because we were always one season ticket short I was usually pushed under the turnstiles so I could get in for free.

It was my godfather who got me in to photography. He showed me how to take pictures and let me use his Canon AE1 SLR film camera, and being a huge sports fan meant I was always going to be interested in shooting sports. When my grandad left me some money I bought a Nikon body and a Nikon 300mm lens, and so my journey to being a sports photographer began.”

One change for the better to improve football photography for the next generation of photographers?
“Better communication,  with chats and seminars with the more senior pros.”

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
“So many to mention, but here are a few…

Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League win in 2012 produced the best run around for me. This is when we get the chance to capture post presentation images of the winning players showing the trophy off to their fans on the pitch. It was great fun running around competing with other photographers for these unique shots, and it produced some really good stuff.

The FIFA World Cup is always special for me, but covering it in Brazil in 2014 was the best tournament I’ve covered.

And, being a Sunderland fan, I really enjoyed being at St. James’ Park, when the Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio slid on his knees celebrating their victory over Newcastle in 2013.
I also remember  – for very different reasons  – being in Lyon for the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup the night Marc Vivien Foe passed away… A surreal and very sad night.”

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
“Single, wealthy and miserable… I feel very lucky to be doing the job I always wanted to do since childhood.”

First Football Match Covered?
“A Sunday morning fixture somewhere in Sunderland, I would guess.”

Favourite footballer to work with?
“Tim Krull, without question!”

Favourite football ground to work at, and why?
“Nou Camp – Messi is on the pitch in front of you!”

Biggest Lessons Learnt in the business?
“Always want to improve, and you will always miss a picture.”

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