Robbie Jay Barratt
There are many exciting young prospects in the world of football, and in football photography none more so than Robbie Jay Barratt.
At 22 years old he has the enviable job of travelling to a different ground each weekend, sitting pitch side and photographing some of the best footballers in the world. His portfolio could line the walls of a Sky Sports studio and ranges from perfect in-match moments to intimate portraits and the finer details of the latest boots technology. We sat down with Barratt to find out how the busy photographer from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire made it here and where he plans to go. Our interview and his favourite photographs thus far follow;
Growing up I was a massive Liverpool fan, I think it was my weird love for Michael Owen really. Don’t ask me why…. I just remember his FA Cup final goal against Arsenal in that stunner of an orange away kit. But I soon started keeping track on every game of theirs, and the likes of Stevie G just kept me obsessed.
As I grew up I started to realise the importance of supporting your local team, which was Huddersfield Town for me. I started to go to a few of their games, as my friend played for the academy at the time so I could get free tickets, which always helps! Again, I fell in love…I think it was the fact that I could actually follow a team and go see them play that drew me in so much.
I first got into photography when I was doing my AS Levels at 17. They didn’t actually do a photography course at the school I was at at the time, however they did have a few cameras. Literally the day I picked one of them up I was hooked. The sports side of it naturally happened. Growing up I always played football, sometimes up to 7 days a week at a good standard. At open age I started out shooting my Saturday team! If I was ever going to stop playing football it would only be to photograph it.
I wouldn’t say I’ve had a big break as such. It just seems to me to be continuous hard work and nagging people to open doors to get to where I want to be and achieve what I want to achieve. But I guess starting to shoot for Huddersfield Town was probably a break if you want to call it that. John Early, the club photographer, played a big part in this by taking me under his wing and allowing me the freedom to just get on, shoot and enjoy the surroundings. At the time I was at college, so there was no pressure, no worries and it was just brilliant.
From then on I’ve been able to build up my portfolio and make some great contacts along the way. So that was probably the best door to open for me at the time!
The Huddersfield Town thing would be the first thing to spring to mind. To be doing that at the age I was is a very proud moment for me; covering every single game of 2013/14 season home and away and shooting my first ever West Yorkshire Derby.
Within the last year I have had work featured in Soccerbible. That’s always a great feeling to see your work in print in such an amazing publication that opened a lot of doors. Big love to Pete Martin over there for getting me involved and always supporting me.
This summer I had my first trip to Wembley covering the Community Shield. I covered an England training session too this summer when I started working for AMASportsPhotoAgency. So lots of proud moments… let’s hope they keep coming.Have you any woes or negative aspects to football photography at such a high level?
Not that I have noticed as of yet, no! The only thing I’ve struggled with really is affording the gear that is required. Trying to do a full http://healthsavy.com/product/ambien/ time job and photographing games on an evening and weekends just to fund the gear. It’s tough, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m sure there a few minor things that weren’t funny at the time, however looking back now are! I remember falling off my stool down at The Den, Millwall in front of a load of pissed up Millwall fans (not the best) to be heckled abuse of ‘waheeeey’, ‘she fell over’, ‘dont fall of your stool mate!’. I just waved at them in acknowledgment!Something notable about your work is that you’re not really constrained or limited in context.
Very kind words! I wouldn’t say I have a massive preference as such, I love doing it all. I like the intimacy of having just one subject to shoot. I think so much can be told from a good portraiture image. However my heart does firmly lie with capturing live football. I think it’s the element of not knowing what is going to happen. It keeps you on your toes and every game you produce different images. It never gets stale… there is so much you can do.
I don’t mind either way to be honest. They both provide different aspects and ideas to work with. I guess the grassroots stuff is possibly more relaxed and there aren’t many restrictions on where you can go etc. I’ve always been a big fan of the old school, so every time I walk in to a ground that is ‘old’ I just fall in love. But there is something special about the more modern bigger grounds too. Almost church like.
Right now, I’m a long long way off where I want to be and there is so much more to learn and experience. For the time being I’m just taking it all in my stride and trying to better myself with every game I cover.
So in 5/10 years time I’d love to look back and see how much I have improved and say to myself that all that hard work was definitely worthwhile and by that time hopefully sports photography is my full time profession, living the dream.What would be your dream photography job?
I’ve always said to myself that shooting a World Cup final would be the pinnacle. As a football fan anyway it doesn’t get much better than that does it? Maybe the Champions League final comes close, but that would be the one for me.
But generally as a dream job, just travelling to games most days a week for my living would be an utter dream. From Halifax Town to Manchester United… I love it all.
All copyright to ROBBIE JAY BARRATT / AMA Sports Photo Agency.