TThe Women’s World Cup is over. After more than four weeks of dramatic action in Australia, Spain defeated England in the final on Sunday, achieving the pinnacle of footballing immortality.
Nor is it an exaggeration to suggest it; Some of the sport’s most iconic and memorable images over the years come from that very tournament and that very game, both women’s and men’s: the joy of Birgit Prinz in 2007, Lionel Messi, who was in Qatar with the trophy decorated with a bisht, Brandi Pele celebrated the Azteca pitch in Chastain’s shirtless shootout in 1970.
These images are as much a part of football history as the games and the players themselves – but the people who bring these moments, these stories to life, are rarely as prominent due to the nature of their work behind the camera.
In Australia and New Zealand, Getty Images is one of the best-known global photo organizations providing such reproductions and reflections on the events of the 2023 edition, which lead photographer Catherine Ivill perhaps better places – both literally and figuratively – than Most Is About It , to describe in detail how to capture the emotions of the occasion for those not lucky enough to see a short film. “What I like best about it is telling the story for people who are not in the stadium. What we see and hear is only one; If you’re not there, you need a description. It’s about the atmosphere, in the game, but also well after the final whistle,” she said The Independent.
“A tournament like this has its challenges, but those opportunities only come every few years. The process doesn’t change, only the scale. We’re sending a really strong, experienced team: we’ve got 27 photographers and eight editors on site and we’re delivering images all over the world, just like we did at the Men’s World Cup.”
And so to the events, the images, the moments that live on. The 2023 tournament kicked off on July 20th and it’s fair to say the magic began back then when co-hosts New Zealand won their first ever World Cup game.
“I was in Wellington for the opening game at Fanfest and the atmosphere was amazing,” explained Ivill. “That one goal changed everything for New Zealand football and the people’s respect for it: that one goal created a legacy for him in the country.” It’s such an important moment, you see the subs, the smiling faces – It was a good day.”
And yet every medal in football has two sides.
And when there is utter jubilation and euphoria at success on the biggest stage, there must also be devastation, despair and despair – as Ivill proves when he heartbreakingly eliminated Italy in the group stage at the last minute.
“Italy gave it away. The utter devastation they felt is clear. If [celebratory] Something happens on the other end, then it’s not always a good photo – you always think at first that the celebration is the good photo, but Italy was near me so I focused on how they felt, it tells them same story but from a different perspective side.”
Yet even in difficult moments, there can be a softer side in sport, a moment when rivals know what their beaten opponents are going through. “What I like most about women’s football is the empathy,” says Ivill. “A lot of these players play together and it’s not always about the celebration at the final whistle. Nobody wants to feel that nonsense at the final whistle and they are always very willing to go over and help the other team.
“It was a hard fought game and they pick her up off the floor – I really like the empathy and strength that this type of image gives you.”
Sometimes the image everyone wants to see doesn’t necessarily matter moment, but the players who matter most. For example, one of the best players in the world and one of the sport’s most exciting young talents come together for a short time.
“It’s both a bit of luck and planning. Most of it is luck, but of course you think about the players. Linda Caicedo was one of the standouts of the tournament, so I’d focus on her – and coincidentally, Lucy Bronze is also coming along. One is Real Madrid, the other Barcelona – the rivalry is there on paper too.”
No matter how much planning and knowledge goes into the game, it’s the surprising nature of football that keeps people coming back – as Ivill found, Japan’s 4-0 win over Spain in the group stage is a good example.
“In that game I was alone and waiting to see if Alexia Putellas would be in the starting XI. She was, so I figured it was just going to be an attack from Spain and took up my position behind the goal they were heading towards…then it’s 3-0 to Japan at half-time and I’m at the other end , head in hands! Japan was raging in that game and all I can remember is being at the wrong end!”
An interesting side note is the concept of taking photos that she can’t really see at the time – with England’s semi-final goal scored by Lauren Hemp providing a spectacular and unusual angle. “We have a web camera and attach it to the goal before the game. I fire the camera from a remote control on my seat; It doesn’t always work like the net can swing or point the wrong way when hit, but it’s a great angle and few agencies do it, so it’s more of an exclusive image.
“We can’t see it in game – I just have to hope it’s still where I left it!” We set it up and then it either happens or it doesn’t.”
As mentioned, Ivill stays in place long after the final whistle, long after the fans have gone. At least most of them: the Japanese fans have great admiration for lingering later and cleaning up the stadiums behind themselves and others. “They are so well known for cleaning up after games. Players make origami figures and write thank-yous on the board in the dressing rooms; The fans here have continued their tradition of walking around after the game.
“It’s not over for me when the final whistle sounds, and that shows. I’m only done long after everyone else has left the stadium.”
The benchmark, standard and expectations of game photos are the action shots: the goals, the saves, the moments people remember.
But getting ready for a shot like this takes more than just luck and trigger finger reflexes.
There’s a lot of planning involved at an event like this, Ivill explains, from making sure a team of three focus on different groups or individuals in a penalty shootout, to making sure it’s safe potential Events are on their radar – such as Marta’s exit from her last World Cup appearance for Brazil.
In the meantime, there are current issues and challenges to address, particularly those related to VAR in the modern game.
Referees strolling across the pitch to watch a monitor some 40 yards from the incident and group of players can take a contextual photo that’s “difficult” to capture, with the digital screens adding another complication since the LEDs are difficult to focus.
At the end of the day, football is all about one thing: winning.
The celebrations that follow – whether in the stands, at gatherings outside, or among the players themselves – are the ones that are remembered the longest.
Of course, much of the emotion that can explode at this point is due to the circumstances of the game: the ‘unusual’ moment of Sweden’s penalty shoot-out triumph over the USA, confirmed by goal-line technique, resulted in an incredibly up close and intimate one Moment when… cheering to the max was clearly seen. Sweden’s adventure, of course, ended in a bronze medal as England reached the final by beating the hosts.
But in the final chapter of this story, Spain took their chance in the final. A moment that was not the dream scenario for Ivill. Another chapter of this story follows, another special photo to capture. And it’s fair to give the final say on that to the person who takes it on – and how important is it that as football continues to catch up, a woman at the top of her profession will rightly be in a position to who celebrate, to perpetuate .
“I know I’m on the field and I’ll be on the bench for the final. So for the trophy presentation, the photo that lasts the longest, we stand next to each other and have different lenses to capture different images. ‘ she said ahead of Sunday’s final. “My perfect target will be the lionesses who pick it up. That is The picture for me.”
Sometimes the fairy tale ending is not fulfilled.