At the beginning of last week, we had a particularly difficult challenge of deciding who would be crowned the UK winner of Nike’s Football documentation competition, The Chance. As official media partners to the project we sat down with Nike and Neil Bedford for over three hours discussing the finer details of all of the submissions. Each of us had our own ideas on what to look out for but what was unanimous across the panel was a desire to find a new talent, who not only captured the footballing elements but managed to tell a story through the unique perspective of the footballer they were paired with.
All of the participants, Bafic, James, Ollie, Tatyana, Mollie and Akwasi approached the competition in their own way with great results. Working in tough, competitive and often pressurised circumstances they truly began to understand the challenges pertaining a professional photographer. Charged with the tasks to build relationships, get the most out of a subject matter and also at times become a “fly on the wall” they all relished the opportunity.
Delivering back a broad range of fantastic work, from powerful stills to emotional videos we began to deliberate on who would be going to Barcelona to compete on the world stage. We looked for something unique, that not only showed exceptional quality but would also be capable of standing out as a piece of work that is not only British in aesthetic but also very different from the other entrants to be judged by Spike Lee.
Having discussed at length each of the submissions, lots of work stood out for its ability to convey the emotion of the competition, the strain on the footballer and it’s quality as a piece of branded material that fits with Nike. Taking all of these points into consideration it was with great difficulty that we came to a decision, Mollie Mills is our UK winner of The Chance.
Mollie’s video takes the footballers journey, his story and crafts it into a superb scripted narration that makes the hairs stand on end. A wonderful use of natural light, sound execution of the highest level, Mollie’s video looks and feels truly unique. Her personal approach brings together the natural elements of everyday life, that are intrinsically beautiful. Her intimate portrayal of the footballer Andrew Whorms is truly remarkable.
Stay tuned as Mollie will be documenting her trip to Barcelona here on BNTL. A massive thank you to all at Nike and the participating Reporters who all made this a great project to be a part of. For the latest on Nike’s The Chance head HERE
As we continue to spotlight The Reporters who have been hard at work curating their portfolios, which were presented to us this week, we now can showcase the outcome of what has been an exciting but difficult challenge. The announcement of which UK reporter will be entered into The Chance global finals to be judged by Spike Lee in Barcelona will be made tomorrow. But First take a look at a selection of photographs by James and two videos by Mollie and Akwasi respectively.
To learn more about James you can check out our profile piece with him HERE
To learn more about Mollie you can check out our profile piece with her HERE
To learn more about Akwasi you can check out our profile piece with him HERE
The Reporters have been hard at work curating their portfolios to showcase what has been an exciting but difficult challenge. We now have the pleasure of showcasing each Reporter’s work before we announce who will be entered into The Chance global finals. First up is a selection of photographs by Ollie, a video by Tatyana and photographs by Bafic.
To learn more about Ollie you can check out our profile piece with him HERE.
To learn more about Tatyana you can check out our profile piece with her HERE.
To learn more about Bafic you can check out our profile piece with him HERE.
As a part of Nike’s Football project The Chance, we approached Neil Bedford to mentor the Reporters as a part of the project. Neil’s acclaimed for his fashion photography but is also very much involved in football culture, a few weeks ago we caught up with Neil to get his thoughts on The Chance, mentoring and most importantly football.
Those that are familiar with your work and follow you online, will be aware of your own Football documentary project on Bradford City Football Club, can you tell us a little bit about that?
The ‘Fourteen Fifty Nine’ project is a book I started when i was doing my MA at Uni. I was studying Fashion Photography but I didn’t really want to do fashion, ‘fashion’ is just a word, a photographer is a photographer, fashion should then apply to what you photograph. I didn’t want to do just another glossy 12 page fashion shoot that I could effectively shoot in less than a week, that didn’t warrant me going back into full time education. This was a serious kind of commitment. I came up with Fourteen Fifty Nine and the idea of publishing a book and sold it into the college. It started then and it’s still on-going. The original idea was to finish it after about a year, but football is something that shouldn’t have a time period, especially when you consider what I was doing, visiting fans in their own homes and documenting both home and away games. The project consists of 25 fans, all who have a Bradford City related tattoo, either our club crest, the mascot or simply BCAFC put together with the documentation of a match day. It could just be one image, say from Barnet away, but that is/will be enough. One powerful image of a period in time is better than 20 anyway. The portraits of the 25 fans are all taken in their homes and they should age really well, if you were to put it out now it would show that everyone goes to Ikea, everyone’s got a leather couch, but in say 15 years time it will say more about the society than the place they shopped. That’s my take on it anyway, but I’m no theorist. I’m likely to work on it for at least another couple of years now, I really like the documentary part of it. As I said before, even if you’re only getting one photograph, you don’t know if that game is going to be a relevant game or an iconic game.
I suppose that kind of ties in with The Chance, it’s about iconic moments in sport…
Yeah you’ve got no idea what is going to be iconic at the time of shooting. It could just become useless, but if you give it a few years, the chances are it’s going to become stronger than it currently is. Also things just age better, we’re in a period where people reference all the time. I’m starting to think now, shoot a lot of stuff you can reference yourself.
Have you done any action photography, games or anything like that?
No, I really want to as well, it’s really hard to get the accreditation, i looked into it, you have to have photographed three professional games of league standard for three national newspapers, i think. How do you get started with that? I’ve been lucky, I’ve always been put in the right places by the right people… I’d really want to do it, to document a game, it’s incredible. There are Sky tv ads that they’ll show every so often, and it’s like they’re filmed more like a movie and it’s beautiful. There is an incredible guy called Stewart Clarke, who’s been doing it for twenty years. Brilliant stuff, from all different clubs, not just concentrated on one club.
What do you feel the challenges are for the Reporters? You’ve just been on tour with Kasabian taking a lot of live action shots, which can translate to sport.
First of all you have no control over anything other than your own composition. Going on tour with Kasabian you just don’t know what you’re going to get, you just have your camera ready. You’re always going to miss something. You could be concentrating on Serge and Tom has just done the best thing in the world. You have to forget the moments you didn’t get. It’s a different challenge, because of the conditions, you haven’t set them up. What I’d try and do with Kasabian is plan, ask them what they’re going to do when they come out; go to the crowd, go straight to the guitar you know, so I can put myself in different positions or ask how they are you going to end it. But you just wouldn’t be able to do that with Football, nip in to the dressing room… and ask Davies where he will head on the field, who he will applaud at the end, will he take his shirt off if he scores. You just have to be ready. I guess you set your own idea in your mind, decide who you will look at more than others and then take it from there.
How did the Kasabian Project come about?
Aitor Throup is their Creative Director and he brought me in. His work is mind-blowing. He said I should come and document a video that he was directing for them, something that was initially was more for him. The images were then used on the album and Aitor also made the entire tour program with them, and it went on from there, pushing for me to be on the UK Tour with them and they seemed really into the idea. We get on well, it’s great, they become friends. When you go on to a job, it’s the last thing you want people to become as you want to be able to stand back ten meters and capture, not become distracted with the camaraderie… but as you become really comfortable and they become comfortable with yo, you start getting the better images. It’s the same when a mate takes a photograph of you with his iPhone, whatever, and you don’t mind acting up. If you got your camera out now id try to look the best I could, you understand? You start appreciating them as people, not just as a band you’ve grown up listening too and admiring, they have feelings and you notice that, you start to know when to shoot and what not to take. I’d love to do it every day, I feel it as a photographer, the energy from an amazing show. I’d like to open it up, do a lot more in music.
With The Chance and being a mentor, have you had anyone in your career to date that you’ve worked with, that has provided that role for you?
Yeah, a lot of people but it’s not always photographers, Gary Kenchington from Nike has always pushed me, he’s given me opportunities that I don’t know how you’d get otherwise. I met him through A-Cyde who gave me my first job called ‘Be True’ a campaign for the Nike Dunk. I’d just left uni and I was terrified. It was the first time I was in a proper studio, first time I was using a proper camera, shooting on a Hassleblad. It was horrible, I remember the night before, I didn’t want to go, I wanted to think of any excuse to get out of doing it. Then I have people such as a photographer called Ed Barbour who was my tutor at College, an old guy, like 63 now but he’s been and done it all through the 70s and 80s. Mark LeBon was influential. Gary Aspden has and continues to be an incredible friend as well as a kind of life mentor if you like. There is Aitor too. I could honestly go on, Friends and family are also really important. I send work to people who’ve got no idea of what would be good or be bad, just to see what perception they have of a picture. It does help to see what someone else would think who’s not judging it on a branding merit or a selling point, just as an image.
Im just lucky really, but I do try and be the same person to all the people I deal with as they are to me. You might only talk to a person once, but you can get some kind of advice from them that you might not get from your oldest friend. I guess I just like people, I appreciate them. Im a massive emo, I feel quite sad when I know I wont work with someone again.
You’ve had assistants and had people work with you, such as Sam Butt who is now doing his own thing, do you take a lot of pride in that?
I’m proud of Sam for Sam, not for myself. I love that guy, I remember him emailing me and being shocked that someone wanted to assist me. He’s such a positive guy, he doesn’t see any negative in things, he only takes positives. I doubt he learnt anything from me though, I wasn’t at the right stage in my career to be showing him or offering him advice back then. He’s doing what he’s doing because he’s going to be a good photographer. Its the same with Rory who’s assisting me now, he believes in me more than I do and is always pushing me, it’s great. Rory would be quite a good mentor, he can be challenging, but for the right reasons. He won’t let you just say “that picture’s alright.” He’ll tell you what he thinks and works very closely with me to get the final image. Ill miss him when he goes.
Football’s a big part of your life?
I love football, I can’t really expand further as love is a very powerful word and anything else would just be padding out the question.
There is so much that goes with going to football…
You can take the moments surrounding games or outside the ground for granted. Some people will, they don’t realise how much of a deal going to football can be. If today was Friday and Bradford were playing tomorrow, I’d be well excited.
Do you still go much…
I go to every game that’s south and travel back, depending on work. We’re crap though, so it’s hard to get motivated some weekends when you think of the distance/time etc and when you are lingering at the bottom of the 4th division its easy to take the easier decision of listening to it on the radio. If I were still to be based up North id still be a season ticket holder though as it is just a way of life.
What do you think can come out of The Chance creatively?
Giving someone the opportunity to do what I want to do, it’s a massive chance. All I wanted to do at Uni, was work for Nike, even when i had the opportunity, I was terrified because you want to do a good job. To be given the opportunity to document one player, who could or couldn’t be a pro doesn’t really matter, if you make a beautiful documentary of that person it’s an incredible project, whatever you do with it. Then to come out as a winner, and be given an opportunity with Nike. It’s massive, that goes without saying.
They have to let their work do the talking. I know exactly what I’ll be looking for and it certainly isn’t the person who shouts the loudest or looks the best, or has a better camera. It’s about ability and what they can bring. You can have the most fantastic documentation shot on what might be perceived as terrible camera, if they can capture the moments where we feel we know that kid, that’s what it’s about. One piece of advice I gave one of the reporter is that “you probably shouldn’t look at getting anything useable the first two sessions you spend with your player. To really document something really well you need to get to know that person, understand when he’s going to be comfortable with you. That’s when it’s going to become interesting. That can become beautiful, that’s what these reporters have to get. They really have to get inside the lives of the person they’re documenting, you know what they’re going to do next. I hope that can happen. It doesn’t need to be training, football, they’re probably going to go out. Make a connection, if you don’t get on with them, change them. Otherwise you won’t get what you need out of a guy that doesn’t like you.
Nike, in a way are often just as memorable for the Ad campaigns they’ve created. Whether it’s Spike Lee, creating the Jordan Mars Blackman thing, people still talk of the 90s Nike Football ads. That could come out of TheCchance, as much as people talk about an image of Pele or Bobby Moore, people are referencing Nike projects as iconic footballing moments.
I was recently given a book of Nike adverts. I’m not sure how far back it went but there was stuff in there, I’d never seen before. There was one advert that was incredible. It was ‘spaces’, the copy was “What do you see?” so two cars parked quite far apart, that then becomes a goal. That’ll be with me for a long time and will probably influence some of my work. As soon as i saw it I ripped it out, I thought it was beautiful. For adverts to become iconic images is great, from a photographers perspective.
There are some videographers on The Chance, you’ve done some video work?
Only very little. Im still striving to prove myself as a photographer and it would be too easy to pick up a video camera and make just another half arsed ‘in-and-out-of-focus’ 2 minute ‘short’, you know? I never want to do anything that just slots in, I want to be challenged. Anyway, I worked with a videographer called Ryan Hopkinson to create some video’s for Penfield’s SS11 campaign, actually I couldn’t really call it a video, more a moving still. I was becoming really interested this idea at the time, through a discussion I had had with Aitor. So i basically wanted a photograph to move, for like 15 seconds, not just be still like an image, but also not really be a video. We set it up around the photographs I was already making, so it kept that feel. It’s kind of Harry Potter related, which is a really weird reference but they look at the Newspapers and the people in the pictures move, I got giddy. But like I say im a photographer and its photographs I’m interested in.
Do you take two cameras, set up a film camera, a digital one?
I used to and its fine when you’re doing certain jobs, but when the pressure really builds and you’re doing slightly larger jobs it becomes another element of stress you don’t want to deal with. When that’s the level you start working at you’re really concentrating on delivering and I think, if you were going to shoot the shot and then shoot again just for film, just to have it, there is no real point. I still shoot a lot of my editorial work on film, as you don’t have the responsibilities you have on a commercial job, you don’t need to sign off an image with the creative, you don’t need to show a list of people so you don’t need to see the image. You know what you are shooting, through Polaroid and experience anyway. Shooting digitally is perfect for the commercial jobs though, in fact id be terrified if I was asked to shoot on film, as its nice to take off the pressure by being able to see the shots and have them signed off and know you are getting exactly what you want.
When the Reporters come to exhibit work, they may lean on you more than they have done now…
I said at the start of the project, I want to help people, I’ve been helped, where I am now, I’ve been put in most positions through someone I know, not through excelling with talent and having people rave about me on a website or a blog. A good example is meeting A-Cyde through using Crooked Tongues…
It’s pretty mad, thinking about heads, or people on the scene for whatever you want to call them, that have come through Crooked Tongues…
Russell is a great guy who has also been good to me, his website really formed a community in the early party of the naughties. It’s a shame that now it doesn’t seem to be as strong as it was now, but that’s just down to the progression of the internet I guess. Maybe it’ll have resurgence, who knows, but ive taken a lot from being sat on the boards for hours at a time. There are so many people who have gone on to work in the industry too, Matt, Chris, Stephen, Mubi yeah, yeah, yeah.
If you could document a player, who would you want to photograph like that…
Owen Hargreaves would have been great, what he must have gone through, he could have been one of the best players England’s ever had, that’s quite sad. Maybe Tom Cleverley, watching someone like that rise. I wouldn’t go for the superstar, the obvious. Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes, the guys you never see out and about, would be well interesting too.
The Chance Reporters are currently working on their portfolios and getting ready to showcase their work, the winner will travel to Barcelona, to showcase their portfolio from The Chance to esteemed judges including Spike Lee.
For more information and for a selection of work by Neil Bedford check out his website HERE
We travelled to Manchester a couple of weekends ago to follow the six creative reporters taking part in Nike’s football documentation competition, The Chance. The 4 day UK Finals saw 100 of the most talented unsigned young footballers participating in the opportunity to be drilled and chosen by Manchester United’s top talent scouts and academy staff for 1 of 3 places to head to the global finals in Barcelona in August.
Each of the Reporters had a final opportunity to catch up with their footballer before entering the trials and out through their paces like any aspiring pro. From media experiences to motivational speeches, the Reporters were on hand to capture the energy and emotion of a busy few days, truly gaining an unrivalled insight into the life of a professional athlete. Just as the players were competing in eleven-a-side matches in a bid to impress, the reporters were beginning to contemplate not only the success of their footballers but their own creative competition and their bid to head to the global finals to meet and have their work critiqued by acclaimed film director Spike Lee.
All Reporters and footballers stayed at Mottram Hall Hotel, an established luxury hideout for all footballers in the North West. The three day trip saw the reporters showcase and discuss their work with the footballers, as well as being privy to the Chance lounge, hosted by Nike Sportswear, offering unique off-pitch experiences through product seeding and styling and private NikeiD sessions. This was also an opportunity for the reporters to showcase some of their finest selects so far through a creative Chance gallery area set up to offer the athletes an opportunity to see the journey of the reporters and how they are not the only one’s competing in the Chance.
A tough environment to be a fly-on-the-wall photographer and documenter, the Chance players were reduced from a starting 100 on Thursday reducing to 50 on the Friday and then the final 28 in preparation for the final eleven-a-side match on Sunday at Manchester United’s Carrington training ground before the final selection of the final 3 players to represent the UK in the global finals in Barcelona.
Manchester offered some of the most memorable experiences and emotions to both players and reporters alike as they head home more accomplished and inspired than when they arrived. The reporters now working hard with their mentor Neil Bedford to refine and select their final film edits and portfolio of work to be judged in a few week’s time. Stay close to see who makes the cut and follow their journey en route to Barcelona.
Tatyana makes up the six reporters taking part in Nike’s football documentation competition, The Chance, we caught up with her to find out what being involved in The Chance means to her.
As we continue to catch up with the reporters for Nike’s football documentation competition, The Chance, we sat down with Mollie and discussed how she has found the campaign and what’s been exciting about the project.
Taking part in Nike’s football documentation competition, The Chance, has been a great experience for Bafic. We caught up with Bafic to find out what he’s been up to and how the project has been going.
As we continue to catch up with the reporters for Nike’s football documentation campaign The Chance, we sat down with James to discuss the challenge ahead and how he is approaching the project.