FPA Member Profile

Michael Zemanek – Freelance
All Images © Michael Zemanek / BPI



  • 2008-2010 Freelance for Professional Sport
  • 2009-2011 BA (Hons) Photography and Video – De Montfort University
  • 2009-2013 Freelance for CameraSport
  • 2013-current Freelance for BPI/Shutterstock
  • FIFA World Cups (1)
  • UEFA Euro Champs (1)
  • UEFA Champions League Finals (1)
  • UEFA Europa League Finals (1)
  • UEFA Women’s Champions League Finals (1)
  • UEFA U-21’s Championships (3)
  • FA Cup Finals (3)
Q&A with Michael Zemanek

What came first? sport or photography?
“Both. I started skiing when I was four and at the school level I entered a few ski competitions.
Photography was always around me for as long as I can remember. My dad had his darkroom set up almost permanently in the bathroom of our flat. I spent a lot of time assisting him in developing, printing and drying pictures.”

Who did you look up to when you were young and who has helped you most during your development?
“My starting point was the Getty Images website, photographer’s portfolios and photography books. That’s how I came across the Offside book “50 Years of Football In Focus” and a great little book “Football” with plenty of images of football history from Getty and Allsport archives. I was trying to understand what does it mean to capture the deciding moment of the game, capture the story or just get a good football picture.
Also, I’ve closely followed the work of Formula 1 photographers Darren Heath and Rainer Schlegelmilch.

After joining Back Page Images, owned by Javier Garcia, my work got great momentum and I’ve learnt from working with BPI that the shot of the match is not always where the ball is. My approach to photographing football broadened. Beside getting the usual ‘saleable’ material I got to think more about wrapping the whole event in one picture, telling the match story and to look for great PR and news angles too.”

One change for the better to improve football photography for the next generation of photographers?
“Any budding football photographer should be guided towards certain standards in football photography and whoever employs them should take more responsibility for their development and progress.”

Favourite football ground to work at and why?
“Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur offer the best working conditions with plenty of room pitchside for photographers and also clean backgrounds. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium offers much better access to the ethernet sockets pitchside.”

A football memory?
“The World Cup in Russia 2018, which I did on behalf of BPI/Shutterstock.
It was such an intense time of planning, work and travel. Being able to photograph the best football spectacle generating so many stories globally every day throughout a month is unforgettable.”

Canon, Nikon or Sony?

First football match photographed?
“2008 Coventry City v Leicester City.”

Best advice to youngsters?
“Get passionate about the job. The internet is not the only place for inspiration. Buy a newspaper, especially those with Sunday and Monday football pullouts as print is the best way of appreciating football pictures. Understand your current equipment and use it to its limits before upgrading.”

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