World Cup Final – the view from the picture desk

I’ve worked at Action Images for many years, and although my role now mainly involves handling our marketing and managing our relationships with partner agencies, I still occasionally get my hands ‘dirty’ and help out on the picture desk. The World Cup Final was one such occasion.


Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger lifts the FIFA World Cup trophy. Photo: Lee Smith

We had four photographers assigned to shoot the final editorially for us, so the team back in the office – myself, Mark and Steve – knew we were in for a busy night. I had been given captioning duty for the evening, so I was responsible for identifying all of the players and incidents.


Mario Gotze scores the winning goal for Germany. Photo: John Sibley

As I arrived in the office at 7pm on Sunday, an hour before kick-off, my colleagues told me that there were huge connectivity problems at the Maracana, and that every agency was having problems trying to transmit images. After I set myself up with various live match feeds and’s extremely helpful team pages to aid captioning, we sat back and waited for the images. And waited.


FIFA’s excellent squad lists, which helped me to identify some of the lesser known squad players parading around with the trophy after the match. Source:

From the World Cup, all of our photographers had been transmitting directly from the back of the camera, sending uncropped images with no metadata. The guys on the ground in Rio were trying desperately to get their images across but could not connect to the wi-fi. All of the photographers had fans pictures, preview images and even the closing ceremony to send over, so they began to resort to old tried-and-tested methods and sent via 3G. The trickle of images was painfully slow, and one image of Shakira performing during the closing ceremony took 20 minutes to fully copy across!


An Argentina fan before the match. Photo: Lee Smith


Shakira and Carlinhos Brown perform during the closing ceremony. Photo: John Sibley

Fifteen minutes before kick-off, the technical team in Rio de Janeiro finally resolved the issue and the images started to pour in. Soon it was a challenge to keep up, but we just about managed it.


Germany’s Miroslav Klose holds of Argentina’s Ezequiel Garay. Photo: Carl Recine

When I meet new people and try to explain to them what we do, they often assume that “you get paid to watch football”. If only. Over the years I’ve found that I actually ‘watch’ less than most of my friends, mainly because you don’t really get to watch the action. From the World Cup final, I probably ‘watched’ about 5 minutes of the match in total, and most of that was made up of replays. I was aware of what was going on mainly due to the BBC’s match commentary.


Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain celebrates after scoring a goal which was subsequently disallowed. Photo: Lee Smith


Germany’s Manuel Neuer clatters into Agentina’s Gonzalo Higuain as he punches the ball clear. Photo: John Sibley

As the match continued goalless, we were all agreed that we weren’t particularly bothered which team won, as long as the match finished in normal time and we could get home at a decent hour! And this proved to be the kiss of death. Full time came and went, and still no goals.


Argentina’s Lionel Messi shoots wide. Photo: Jason Cairnduff

When Mario Gotze finally scored what would be the winning goal for Gernany during extra time, there was a palpable sense of relief in the office that we wouldn’t have a penalty shoot out to add to the workload. Once the final whistle had blown, it seemed to take an eternity for FIFA for set up the presentation, which enabled us to catch up on the last of the match action. We just had to wait for trophy images now.


Germany’s Mesut Ozil and team mates celebrate with the trophy. Photo: Carl Recine


Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski celebrate with the trophy. Photo: Jason Cairnduff

Although the print newspapers had already gone to press, we still had a host of online and international clients to satisfy, and thankfully we were rewarded for our hard work with over 50 online newspaper usages.


The Times back page for Jason Cairnduff


Daily Telegraph Sport front page for Carl Recine.



We finally finished working on the images at about 1am, and left the office shortly afterwards. I got home at 2.30am, but didn’t get to sleep until about 4, as I still had a huge buzz of having worked on this fantastic set of images from a brilliant team of photographers.


Just a small selection of over 450 images transmitted by our team from the final.


(Originally posted on Action Images’ blog in July 2014, all photographs are copyright of Action Images/Reuters)











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