#Mediatribune: Meet Romena Fogliati, a woman football photographer
Romena Fogliati in a picture taken by Carlton Myrie.
Maria Pia Beltran, AIPS Media
LAUSANNE, June 18, 2019 – “At the age of 15 I was the youngest woman photographer working with football in Brazil”. Romena Fogliati for sure has something special being part of such an interesting branch of sports journalism.
While covering the Olympics or other big international competitions we were always thrilled by the photographers carrying around their equipment.
Or more often, running with their equipment.
It’s a tough job, both physically and mentally, we’ve always thought: it’s about being in the right place at the right moment. With less possibility of recovery if you missed that perfect shot you wanted to take. The moment passed and you can’t ask your colleague: “What did he say?” as we in the written press can do.
Well, finally we got to interview a sports photographer. Born in Sao Paolo with a Brazilian mom and an Italian dad: Romena Fogliati (9 February 1981) tells us more about her experience in this fascinating branch of sports journalism.
How did it all start?
I have loved photography from a very young age and I started to get into sports photography at the age of 15, when I was the youngest photographer (also female photographer) working with football in Brazil. At that time, my mom even had to ask a family court judge for authorization so I could enter the stadiums.
In 1996, after doing a short photography course I decided to find an internship. I went for two interviews: one for a celebrity magazine and the other for a sports magazine. I had no doubt: I choose the sports magazine as I have always loved sports and was used to trying everything: football, volleyball, martial arts, surfing, skateboarding, tennis…
I worked as a staff photographer for sports newspapers and magazines covering all the sports, but mainly football. Meanwhile, I got my bachelor’s degree in Journalism and I made a decision to pause my photography career and started to work just as journalist. I worked as a reporter for newspapers, websites and TV channels covering sports but also economics, politics, daily news.
Did you find difficult to combine family and work?
As many women still do I decided to take a break fro my career and chose to dedicate myself to my family. While on a career break in order to spend more time with my family, I did a postgraduate Master of Arts (MA) in Sociology (Globalization and Culture). At the same time, I started to work with fine art photography and attended a few group art exhibitions.
And then you moved back into press photography ?
After many years in Brazil, I returned to London and decided to try to work again with my real passion: sports photography. It's been a great and wonderful challenge! Entering the sports market in a different culture, different language and without knowing anyone was a big challenge. Today I am collaborating with two sports news agencies in London and one of the biggest news agencies in Brazil. I’m already looking for the next steps and challenges.
What are the next events you are going to cover?
In Mid-August when Premier League is starting the season kick offs. There’s the FA Cup, Champions League and all the football competitions. Apart from that I’ve already been booked for the London 2019 World Para Swimming Championships (9th-15th September).
What do you like the most about sport photography?
Being able to capture small parts of an event in order to tell many stories related to the same event is what moves me. More than showing the event itself, as the image of the winning goal, for example, I have passion in trying to tell a little of the history and relations of those who live it: the spectators.
The father who takes the child to watch their football team, the group of friends who for more than a decade keep cheering for their team…More than just capture a moment, what interests me and motivates me every time is trying to capture the fans’ passion, the relationships created from sports competitions and what makes sports the spectacle that it is.
What are the main issues that the professional sports photographer needs to face?
Despite the expensive equipment we must use, the photography industry, especially press photography, has low budgets and low pay.
What’s the most difficult coverage you’ve done?
In 1999 I was covering a football match of Portuguesa, a football team that at that time was in the first division of the Brazilian championship. The team was doing very poorly in the competition. After Portuguesa lost the match all the journalist went to the changing room exit to wait for the players.
The fans were extremely hostile. So, I started taking pictures. Some fans became aggressive and offensive towards me. I continued to capture the scene. In the end I had to leave the stadium escorted by the club's security.
What lessons did you learn that are worth sharing?
Feel the atmosphere. Look around, look behind you… Sometimes one image outside of the pitch could sum up the whole event.
The profession is constantly changing. What is the situation now?
There are only a few remaining newspapers’ staff photographers. The industry is dominated by one or two major news agencies selling around the world. Newspapers usually use the same photos the next day. Working for a small agency means few chances to get published and usually low pay. It’s really hard to survive in the sports market without collaborating with a big agency.
What do you think about the AIPS Sport Media Awards?
As AIPS is the professional body representing the international sports media there’s no one better than AIPS to award and recognize the work of sports photographers.
How can an award help future generations of journalists?
Young and new professionals in the sport field can get noticed after an award like the AIPS Sport Media Awards and it can lead to many opportunities.