PROFILE

Tom Jenkins

Leicester City score a goal during the 2015-2016 Premiere League, taken from behind the goal by photographer Tom Jenkins on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
"It was near the conclusion of the 2015-16 season and Leicester City were trying to complete an amazing story by winning the title," says Tom. "In one of their final home games, I decided to strap a remote camera to a TV gantry to try to show the Leicester fans reacting to a crucial goal scored in front of them." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 1/2656 sec, f/8 and ISO1600. © Tom Jenkins

Sports photographer Tom Jenkins shoots for The Guardian newspaper in the UK and is a lauded lensman, renowned for capturing the stories around the field as well as the action on it.

Tom has been covering sport for The Guardian and The Observer newspapers in the UK for over 25 years and has attended most major sports events in the world. He began his career in 1989 as a freelance photographer for the Allsport photo agency and The Independent and Sunday Telegraph newspapers, before joining The Guardian in 1990 as a contract photographer. In 1993 he also started shooting for The Observer.

Canon Ambassador Tom Jenkins.

Location: London, UK

Specialist areas: Sports, photojournalism

Favourite kit:

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM

His numerous accolades include winning UK Young Press Photographer in 1990 and UK Sports Photographer of the Year on five separate occasions, and he was named Sports Photographer of the Year at the UK Picture Editors' Guild Awards in 2015.

A retrospective of Tom's work, In The Moment, was published in 2012 to coincide with exhibitions in London and Newcastle. In 2017, he won first prize in the Sports Singles category of the World Press Photo Contest for his picture of jockey Nina Carberry falling off her horse during the 2016 Grand National.

An American shot putter in cat eye contact lenses poses in an image by photographer Tom Jenkins, taken on a Canon EOS-1D X.
"At the first Invictus Games for injured servicemen, I noticed this American shot putter. He had decided to compete whilst wearing very distinctive contact lenses," explains Tom. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II) with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 1/1600 sec, f/2.8 and ISO500. © Tom Jenkins

"Winning the World Press Photo Sports Singles category was my greatest achievement," says Tom. "It's the highest award that I've won. But I've had other achievements that are a bit more unusual – once I appeared as a question on [TV quiz show] University Challenge. I was just watching it and I saw myself as a question. It was quite a 'Wow!' moment for me. Getting some GB stamps made out of my pictures was cool as well."

Tom's talent is his unerring eye for detail and an ability to spot the hidden moments other photographers might miss. He cites his former tutor, the renowned Magnum photojournalist David Hurn, for developing his award-winning and ever-inquisitive eye.

The sun sets over the men's 10,000 metre runners at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, in a photo by photographer Tom Jenkins taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
"A stunning sunset created a beautiful patch of light during a men's 10,000m race in 2014. It was just a case of getting in the right spot at the right time," says Tom. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 1/2000 sec, f/5 and ISO400. © Tom Jenkins

He combines his day-to-day shooting of major events with sports features, often photographing memorable portraits of the world's greatest sports stars, such as Péle, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Andy Murray and Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Tom has recently started to work in film as well as stills, calling on his impressive contacts book to make documentaries highlighting the stories behind modern sport, such as his four-episode series, Sport 2.0.

In all of his work, Jenkins is driven by a fierce desire to seek a different angle or viewpoint – something that's perhaps best summed up in his 2017 project to photograph the Wimbledon tennis tournament in infra-red. With almost 30 years of shooting under his belt he shows no sign of slowing down and continues to be a true innovator in the field of sports imaging.

Jockey Nina Carberry falls off her horse at the notorious Chair fence during the 2016 Grand National at Aintree, taken by photographer Tom Jenkins on a Canon EOS-1D X.
Jockey Nina Carberry falls off her horse at the notorious Chair fence at Aintree. "For 25 years I had photographed this fence from all angles with multiple cameras, hoping that one day I would get the picture I wanted. Finally, with a bit of luck, this happened," Tom says. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 1/5312 sec, f/4 and ISO2000. © Tom Jenkins

What inspired you to pursue photography as a career?

"I always wanted to be a sportsman but I realised I wasn't going to be good enough to pursue any sport as a career. I also loved art and, through art, I started to do printmaking and from that I went into photography. It was basically just the combination of my love of sport and photography."


What is the best lesson you have learnt during your career?

"I have an employer who sometimes wants to see things differently, so it's thinking about how to tell a story in the best way I possibly can. I'm working for someone who wants my take on it, so I'm just trying to think differently most of the time: when and where to be, when I can really push the boat out and experiment, and when not to experiment."


What drives your creative ideas?

"My inspiration comes from all sorts of different photography. Sometimes I go to art galleries and think how I could apply that style to sports photography. I look at other sports photography all the time but I'm influenced by loads of other art."


How has Canon technology helped you to shoot your projects?

"When I started it was all manual focus and it was pretty hard work – you'd get a lot out of focus. Autofocus is fantastic: the technology allied to resolution, speed and shooting under dark conditions – it all comes together."


Why do you think the Canon Ambassadors Programme is important and what do you hope to achieve by being a part of it?

"Hopefully it can inspire photographers to think in a new way. Hopefully people might enjoy some of the stories and learn how we adapt to using the cameras and technology and how they could apply that in a creative sense to produce great work. If I inspire one person to take a picture, then I've achieved something!"

One thing I know
Tom Jenkins

"Don't get obsessed with football. Football is really important but it's not the be-all and end-all. People get starstruck by football and think that all you need to do to be a sports photographer is to shoot football, which isn't the case. Try and think differently, don't follow the crowd and don't think you need to do what everyone else is doing. Try and have a unique selling point in your photography. It's so competitive these days that you need to stand out from the crowd. Think more laterally and think of different angles. Don't assume that where everyone else is, is the right spot… it might not be."

Tom Jenkins' kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Canon Ambassador Tom Jenkin's kitbag.

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