Q. Do you mostly shoot with film or digital cameras? What are your thoughts on the two different mediums and the general effect each has on a photographer’s work and process?
SRC: I shoot wholly on Film. Digital allows you to look at the back of the camera and see what you have got immediately and then take another and look at that immediately. Or machine-gun the moment and think “that will have got it”. During this short decisive-moment time, you have missed the next shot or even the ONE shot you set out to get (or didn’t know existed).
Morally there’s some advantage with digital – it gives one the chance to democratically share the picture then and there with the subject (show them on the back of the camera) and maybe improve things for both parties, which sounds like a plus, an honourable thing.
Editors, knowing you already have the picture (being digital) want it even before yesterday. You probably tweet it yourself.
My film-photography approach is about slowing down the whole process for contemplation, for the bigger picture, dignity, integrity. Long-term gain – a whole ‘collection’ and not just a disco dance on that Saturday night post-match hard-on.
Q. When you began Homes Of Football, the game was in a relatively bad way in England. How has the appetite and taste for football photography and different styles of images changed since you started your project?
SRC: I loved the crappiness of the game and the country. In 1989. My mission was in shaping something into what i wanted it to look like: a stage or setting where people were basically good but wayward and eccentric yet flocked like sheep to the same…indeed they flocked to FOOTBALL. They flocked moreover to the back pages of the newspapers to ‘read all about it’ and I wanted to present a magazine or book’s worth of pages which gave the rest of the picture…to which our glorious sheep would go baah, or even purr, in approval, seeing something familiar and yet transformed in which THEY THEMSELVES were the ‘players’. There was then a taste for MY photography but it had to be served up right so I chose exhibitions and books where i could control the content – not some editor treating it as random stuff. This was in 1989-1990, a reaper wielding season in time as it turned out. Historic. Changing. Within 10 years the flower was opening up.
Now and for a few years since, anything goes regards the photographic and artistic treatment of anything (not just football). ‘Truth’ is out the window. The best you can hope for is something engaging and earnest – which is what I have done and in having done it for so many years and to keep on doing it without relent or surrender…is all part of my appeal and boy do I know that and make that my currency. I have the most twitter followers of any football photographer, when ironically i am one of the oldest (pre social media old school student of life). I use twitter for the immediacy of reaction, even if presenting images (a jigsaw of such) from a great long period and rarely from this actual moment. I like to have control of the content, even if not the precise emotion of the audience to that content.
Q. Are there any skills that you worry are fading within modern photography that past shooters were forced to learn using older, less forgiving equipment in the past?
SRC: I do not worry. Let everyone else crash over the cliff and leave the field clear for me!! Actually I have drawn a lot closer to my fellow ‘photographers’ in the last 18 months. I came up with the idea for BTSport to have photographers talk about their approach to camera – to tv – and I was the first up. Many have followed and i think they are pleased I opened up that door for them…and we shy talkers talk now not only to tv! but to one another instead of being like ships in some football night!
Always snce 1990 I was convinced that relephoto lenses were not a good thing: that to get up close (though not with trick wide angle gear which is as bad as being on a wall or in a tree) was both honest and engaging. A rule in teaching photojournalism should be that in photographing or interviewing people ‘you must let the subject try punch you (if they so wish)’ (which they probably only want to do with the paps who they can’t get near). McCullin and his tribe were courageous in their photo craft.
Q. What do you think the future holds for football photographers in terms of the originality of images and the security of paid work?
The world is a big small place – there are loads of emerging markets/audiences out there for football photographers…not just UK and the west where things are fairly tight and people tripping over each other, spilling jpegs, having tifs...paid work is of course now and in the future in the middle east and China and India and Russia and and and…but I am above all a UK photographer. I’m staying put and demanding my pounds and shillings and sometimes euros.
Q. What advantages, if any, are there in digital photography for football photographers seeking to be more artistic with their work?
SRC: There is a world of manipluation to explore in digital and photoshop. Don’t do it a bit and feel bad about it (like you’ve cheated truth), go the whole hogg and totally transform again and again what you have! That’s art and craft!
Q. Has technology, such as auto-focus and digital photography, made it easier and more accessible to be creative and produce interesting work or has it made it harder for photographers to be original, either in terms of their photos or the pressure of shooting for commercial reasons rather than artistic ones?
SRC: Too much choice is often a killer and not a creator, in my opinion.
Snap the auto-focus. Throw away a lens or three. Stay on the one chanel – that is to say focus your mind gaze vision path and pursue a subject (a subject perhaps in football) to and past a point where it can take you that is ordinary. It becomes extra-ordinary in time. Homes of Football is kaleidoscopic – which is part of its attraction, but which stops it being immediately understood by the many many many editors who are out there who are presented with all sorts from all over the world and mostly it has to be quickly understood (lest it be put up as fine art which is mostly but not always people who have nothing to say just taking the piss in a gallery space). I have kind of got away with it, The Homes of Football collossus, but what a marathon I have had to endure! My commercial appeal is actually in the non-commercial nature of my work: in my sincerity and my being to get to the emotional core of football, which as I put it appears priceless.
However, don’t be fooled about the price, I want to get paid at least £400 a day and as much as you over there if you are on more!!