FPA Member Profile

Richard Heathcote – Getty Images
All Images © Richard Heathcote – Getty Images



  • 1992-1994 West Herts College
  • 1994-1996 Berkshire College of Art and Design
  • 1997-2004 Action Images
  • 2004- Getty Images
  • FIFA World Cups (5)
  • FIFA Women’s World Cups (3)
  • UEFA Champions League Finals (3)
  • UEFA Euro Championships (4)
  • FA Cup Finals (5)
Q&A with Richard Heathcote

What came first, sport or photography?
“Sport. I had been going to Watford since I was a ten year old, and I got into photography when I was about 14 through my dad. He was an electronics engineer, but photography was his hobby.

Sport and photography just naturally came together, and once I was at college doing photography, all I wanted was to be a sports photographer, it was all I was interested in and I just went for it.”

Who did you look up to when you were young, and who has helped you most with your development?
“I have drawn from lots of different people. Phil Sheldon for his golf, and Bob Martin, who during the 90’s was one of the best photographers around. I picked up things from Darren Walsh, John Sibley, Brandon Malone and Nick Potts at Action Images, and then from the Getty Images photographers when I moved there.”

Favourite football ground to work at and why?
“Arsenal is a photographer’s dream. The backgrounds are beautiful, the lights are good and we get very well looked after. Even during Covid times Arsenal look after photographers better than anywhere else.

I enjoy going to the Emirates because there is nothing to worry or stress about and always look forward to working there. It’s a great place to work whether it’s sunny or under floodlights. Wembley and the new Tottenham stadium are great stadiums, but when the sun is out it can be a real problem.”

Do you have a favourite memory or anecdote from your time as a football photographer?
“Sitting close to the pitch at Fulham and Terry Phelan sliding straight under me and sending my stool flying. I ended up sitting on the ground where my stool had been, with Phelan behind me. No one was injured. That or similar will have happened to many of us over the course of our careers.”

Favourite footballer to work with and why?
“As a Watford fan Luther Blissett was always a hero to me. When he became Chesham United manager I phoned or emailed the club asking if I could come down and take a portrait of him. The lady who answered suggested I called another number, which turned out to be Blissett’s mobile number. He was a bit cagey at first, but after shooting a match and then being invited to return for the portrait he was great. Very normal and old school, and not concerned about image rights or money. Not ground breaking photography, but a big deal for a lifelong Watford fan.”

Canon, Nikon or Sony?

First match photographed?
“Watford v QPR in 1993 or 1994. I was working for myself as a student/freelance.”

If you weren’t a photographer what would you be?
“It wouldn’t be a desk job. Maybe a green keeper at a golf course? It’s outside, sport related and not sitting at a desk.”

Some advice for youngsters?
“Ask questions, and never be afraid to ask someone what their opinion is on something. If you don’t know the answer then it’s probably not a stupid question. I want people to be enthusiastic and keen to improve in this job. I want them to have their own ideas and style, but to pick up bits from other photographers.

Once you have done this job for a while you will realise that you can’t get every goal, you can’t be in the right place every time and you are going to miss stuff but shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. The best of the best football photographers don’t get everything.”

Biggest lesson learnt?
“Take five minutes to ensure you have everything before you leave the house. I know more than one photographer who has turned up, opened the boot of their car and there is no long lens.”

Have you won any awards?
“I don’t chase awards, but if I have a few decent pics I might enter them one year.”

2019 SJA Sports Photographer of the year.

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