I recently got the fantastic opportunity to sit down with one of sport’s most sought after photographers, Paul Cooper. I took this opportunity to quiz him as much as he’d let me, including his upcoming exhibition in conjunction with The Offside Trust.
Let’s get into it.
Hey Paul, great to get a chance to speak to you – welcome to The Man Blueprint. Tell us a bit about yourself.
“I started my photography career as a press photographer. I moved to Paris where I set up my own agency shooting across Europe in features/news and sport. I learnt to work to tight deadlines and under pressure which helped a lot once I moved back to the UK and into sports portrait/advertising photography.
Over the past few years, I’ve got to know quite a few people at the clubs and the industry and this network has helped me get access to some great shoots. Of course, marketing is a constant but I do find I’m being approached a lot more directly by clients as result of my work being out there. I am a great believer in that if you create great work, then work will come to you as a result.
I work with many football clubs in the Premier League and Championship and also other sports such as Cycling, Golf, Rugby, Formula 1 etc, so I get to meet a wide range of differs sporting personalities”.
Tell us a bit about your upcoming exhibition and why the Offside Trust’s auction is something you wanted to be involved in.
“I photograph a lot of footballers for advertising campaigns throughout the year and for editorial pieces involving footballers, and I thought it would be nice to give something back using some of the images from those shoots.
When I met Laura Wolfe who runs the NWFA, we agreed it would be a great platform to showcase the images and help them raise the maximum possible for the chosen charities. It’s been an enjoyable process organising the printing/signing and exhibition and I hope it raises some much needed cash for The Offside Trust”.
Obviously you’ve done years worth of photoshoots, what’s been your favourite?
“The Paul Pogba shoot I did for his Manchester United unveiling was pretty cool. There was a real buzz as we waited for Pogba to arrive. It was all quite secret and I didn’t even find out who I was shooting until the night before!
He was also filming a short film to be released at the same time of the stills, so there were quite a few people around; camera operators, stylists, make-up artists, directors, editors, sound engineers, Manchester United staff, plus his agent and family members.
A pretty busy set…When he arrived he had the usual styling and kit changes and we then had about three minutes to do the first set-up which was the urgent first profile image (which we nailed in about six frames!). This image was to be released at midnight with the announcement of his signing.
We then did the home/training kit shots, he was really good to work with, great presence in front of the camera and he could switch between moods easily, which was handy as we only had ten minutes to shoot everything! I spoke and joked to him in French which I think helped with the rapport, and a highlight of the shoot was afterwards when he spent about 15 minutes playing an impromptu game of keepy-up with the crew, which was nice.
I always enjoy working with Rooney, he is the consummate professional and I have been fortunate to shoot him many times. He is always gracious, helpful and professional. I did a recent shoot at St Georges Park with him as part of an editorial piece for the NSPCC, which ran front cover and spread and again, he was great to work with.
People don’t get to see what a decent bloke he is and the many charitable things he does so it was nice to be involved with him on that one. It’s these two portraits that are in the auction actually”.
Tell us about your big upcoming plans.
“I’ll continue to shoot stills campaigns for Man Utd, Man City and Liverpool amongst other sport clubs / federation/ brand etc , but going forward I have recently got involved into directing motion.
It’s a new challenge and a completely different way to work which I am enjoying. I recently directed the HULL KR kit launch called the ‘Paint The Town Red’ campaign which involved us throwing huge quantities of paint over the players, great fun but very messy!”
Finally, how can people be a part of your upcoming auction?
“They can go to https://www.jumblebee.co.uk/football to bid. Unfortunately the exhibition itself is one night only and is already fully subscribed, but I do plan on doing a much bigger exhibition over a longer time period in the near future. So I’ll keep you posted on that”.