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Focus of The Week #003

The Lewis Mitchell Episode

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Tell us about yourself?

I am Lewis Mitchell from Bridgend in South Wales, I'm 25 years old and begun photographing seriously around 10 years ago when I was still in school but still work a full-time job in a local hotel, even though that's all on hold at the minute due to the Coronavirus! Aside from Sports and Travelling, I'm really into music with my favorite band being Green Day.

What got you into photography?

I got into photography at quite a young age when on family holiday's to France, I was usually given a disposable camera to play around with and we'd get the photos developed when we got home which was quite exciting to see what they came out like, although it was usually washed out blurs! Later on, I would take over the family compact digital camera, and in my teens, I used to travel quite often across the country to watch Leeds United, who were in League One at the time and would document our journeys to random towns and cities in the UK. My first DSLR was a Sony a230 that I was gifted in around 2010, This led me to get more serious and learn properly the fundamentals of things like exposure and composition, and it began to pay off with my first images in local and national publications starting to appear around this time and I would also try to help out friends and family I had in Bridgend with photography for their businesses, events and sports teams.

What’s your favourite image you’ve ever taken and why?

I don't think I've ever been able to pin down my favorite image to be honest, it changes quite regularly as some of my travel photos are really important to me because of their location or who was with me at the time, some of my Rugby League images hold amazing memories behind them and I feel lucky to photograph football at such a high level which also means a lot to me personally. Last year at the Cardiff City Stadium I shot the important Euro 2020 qualifier between Wales & Croatia, working for a smaller agency it's important to try and get images that stand out from what feels like hundreds of other 

photographers around you, and with the Croats scoring early on down the other end it didn't really get off to a good start. Gareth Bale however came up trumps yet again with a goal from inside the box just before half time, perfect for me to send it off quickly even if he did celebrate into the other corner. It's probably not the greatest picture in the world but it's one of my heroes scoring an important goal and ended up getting a pretty nice usage in The Times the next day so felt like a big milestone for me.

Wales v Croatia   UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier  Cardiff , UK

What type photography do you enjoy doing the most?

I'm really passionate about photographing Sports, My dad played rugby and I got into football when I was around 6 years old, deciding to support Leeds United who were quite decent in the Premiership at the time and I developed into a pacey winger for a few clubs around Bridgend before finding out that I was quite good at basketball too until I broke my arm in two places put an end to that. After Sixth Form I was accepted onto the Photojournalism & Documentary Photography course at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham, which really opened my eyes to a documentary style of storytelling, as well as professional practices of the industry. In my first year, I started playing football again which was a great way to network across the various sports which were being played at the university and I became an intern at the All Golds 

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rugby league team that were a semi-professional outfit owned by the University. Even though I graduated in 2016 I am still the club photographer and travel back to Gloucester and across the country for their matches and events throughout the summer. 2016 was also the year that I got seriously involved with football, I traveled over to France a couple of times to follow Wales in Euro 2016, and my cousin talked me into getting involved with Port Talbot Town when the new season started, as their club photographer I have documented many memorable home and away matches, club events and even the visit of Liverpool FC. I'm incredibly thankful for the 1901 Ultras and everyone at the club for making me feel so welcome every week. Further networking at the club allowed me to cover Cymru Premier League matches for y Clwb Pel Droed, and the national team at various levels, eventually I left the club at the end of the 18/19 season to mainly cover Cardiff City & Swansea City for Andrew Orchard Sports Photography.

Derby Days: Port Talbot celebrate scoring past arch rivals Afon Lido!

Derby Days: Port Talbot celebrate scoring past arch rivals Afon Lido!

"I'm incredibly thankful for the 1901 Ultras and everyone at the club for making me feel so welcome every week"

What's in your kit bag?

I know you won't like to hear this but I shoot with Canon, in 2016 the shutter in my Sony a35 failed on me after many years service. Thankfully a family friend was having a clear out at the time and offered me use of his Canon 50D, so I sold the rest of my Sony equipment and picked up a Sigma 70-200 2.8 and small Canon 270ex flash. That combo lasted me a while before I started covering more floodlit matches and I decided to get a better sensor in the Canon 7D mkii, and then 

as I started covering bigger matches I managed to find a cheap Sigma 300mm 2.8 which is brilliant to get nice and tight with the players. My favorite lens to use however is the Canon 24mm 2.8, It's tiny and people often laugh that there's no lens attached to my camera so it's good to get more discreet and documentary style images before a game. Canon 7D mkii Canon 50D Sigma 300mm 2.8 Sigma 70-200 2.8 Canon 24mm 2.8 Canon 270ex.

What’s next on your ‘to buy’ list?

I'd like to finally invest in a full frame camera, so a Canon 1DX is probably going to be my next purchase and that will allow me to use all three lenses without changes bodies which will be ideal. However when I've been following Wales & Leeds away I've found it a bit of a chore dragging my 50d around with me even if the 24mm lens is so compact, so something like a Fuji x100 camera would be a dream to walk around with instead.

The Camera on Lewis' radar

What would you love to photograph more than anything?

Marcelo Bielsa of Leeds United on the touchline. EFL Skybet championship match, Bristol city v Leeds United at Ashton Gate in Bristol on Sunday 4th Augustl 2019.  this image may only be used for Editorial purposes. Editorial use only, license required for commercial use. No use in betting, games or a single club/league/player publications.pic by Lewis Mitchell//Andrew Orchard sports photography/Alamy Live news

After a few dull years following Leeds, Wales finally qualifying for a major tournament at Euro 2016 and having the time of our lives that summer made me fall in love with football again, It shows with how much football I have shot since then and the places that I've been following both Leeds & Wales. So to photograph Wales qualifying again for Euro 2020 against Hungary last autumn was a great experience, and I really didn't want it to stop there, Plans were in place for me to travel to back to Baku but this time to cover Wales in the tournament and then onto Rome for the game against Italy, but these plans have been ripped up by the global Covid 19 outbreak and UEFA have postponed the Euros until the summer of 2021, So I'll have to wait another year to photograph Wales playing in a major tournament properly.

Who’s your favourite photographer and why?

This is another hard one to answer to be honest, there's quite a few sports photographers out there that I enjoy and respect but looking at my bookshelf though I absolutely love the work of Andrew D Bernstein, he's a legendary NBA photographer for over 30 years. As team photographer for the Lakers he has photographed every era of basketball in Los Angeles from Magic Johnson's showtime to LeBron James' current time at the Lakers. I've never known TV coverage of the 

NBA to be good in this country so when I was younger I'd look at photos to keep up to date and to find out he's behind so many iconic photos is amazing. My favorite player growing up was the late great Kobe Bryant, who released a book detailing his 'Mamba Mentality', Not only is his mantra and work ethic inspiring it's accompanied by breathtaking action photos and historical documentary style images throughout his career by Andrew D Bernstein.

Llangeinor FC, Llangeinor. Bridgend, Wales.

Final question, what’s your lockdown pastime? (Keep it clean!)

I've had to get out of the house, It's driving me crazy not having any football to concentrate on so I've been doing camera walks everyday, it started off as a 10,000 step challenge but then I started going further afield to photograph some local football pitches and villages that I've ignored for a while which has been fun.

All images on this page are copyrighted to Lewis Mitchell.


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