In The Game: Ross Cooke - Photographer
When did you decide to combine your passion for photography with your love of football?
I think I first combined the two early on at uni, I've always had a passion for sport and most of all football. Im obsessed with old imagery and legends of the game in any sport and love watching documentary's from past sporting triumphs or even heartbreaks. I think this is where a lot of my inspiration comes from, looking at photographers who captured these iconic moments and being amazed at how they stand the test of time and tell such a great story. Thats what I want my images to do.
What is the best way to capture the culture and match day experience of the real football fan as you have done in your “A Terrace Culture” project?
Id say the best way to try and capture the culture is to tray and be apart of it and blend in almost. The more natural people act and are around you with a camera in there face or whatever the situation may be, the more real and natural your shots are going to be. And I think this is what I personally respond to the most when looking at photographs, the truth of an image inspires me. With the Terrace Culture project I focused on the youthful fans of the game as i took inspiration for the project by looking back at the casual fashion movement or terrace fashion that evolved within football fans during the 80s and 90s. So there is subtle hints of that within this project.
Do people ever get annoyed with you photographing them during games?
Not particularly, most people like having there photograph taken and often smile, which can sometimes frustrate me as it could be a serious moment and as soon as they see a camera they smile. Of course if there team has scored, I'll let them off for a smile! Although I recently was down at Millwall and I thought it would be a good idea to capture some of the fans going at it but a few fans told me where to go!
Your style is very different from the normal match day photographer. Do Bury give you free reign to shoot how you want?
Yeah Bury are good like that, they pretty much give me free reign to do as I like. Of course I'm there for the club to capture the game and the events that take place in it. So naturally you're looking for that goal celebration but that doesn't mean you cant be creative with you're shots and composition. I think we can often be boxed in, in terms of the specific photos people are looking for, so I often try to push against that. I'm consciously thinking about not repeating my shots and doing the same old stuff.
Do you have a favourite picture you have taken?
Hmmmm, thats a tough one. I think it would be one from my latest documentary project 'Home' where I did a photo series on amateur league christian football in Manchester. Either the shot of blood pouring down one of the players head as he grins or the photograph of Stuart the groundsman pushing the white line marker. I think both offer an essence of what football is all about.
What is your favourite footballing photo?
Another tricky one, I think I have so many! One that springs to mind instantly is a photograph of Steven Gerrard, probably because he's my footballing hero. Anyway the photograph was taken during the famous Champions League Final in Istanbul after the final whistle. It shows Gerrard in and amongst the fans, and he looks shattered, like he's giving everything during that game. Its almost like the fans are holding him up too, I just think it shows the relationship within football between the fans and the game, players ect and also the sheer emotion that we can get swept up in.
What are your future plans/projects?
I have a few things Im working on at the moment, some you can see from my social media, mainly through Instagram. In terms of personal work id say watch this space.. or follow my Instagram!