Women’s sport is brought sharply into focus by student Izzy

Showcasing women’s sport is the name of the game for one student who developed into a sports photographer thanks to her time at University of Northampton (UON).

Izzy Poles – from Saffron Walden – finished her degree in Creative Film Television, Digital Media and Popular Music in the summer but has kept herself busy with sports photography.

Although pleased with her degree, Izzy picked up the photography bug after picking up a camera during the pandemic. She says: “I came to university interested in doing something with film, TV or radio, but I wasn’t sure what.

“I really enjoyed the degree as it covered a variety of modules rooted in TV, radio, and music production and it gave me the opportunity to explore things I wasn’t familiar with. I had free time during Covid and started taking a few photos just for fun. Quickly, I came to like it, enough that I wanted to find out more. As I neared the end of my studies, I started to think about developing my extracurricular interest in photography. And the University were on hand to help me down this new and exciting road.”

Izzy ‘zoomed in’ on her burgeoning camera skills after being referred by academics for guidance from other University teams.

This started with lessons and mentoring from Photography academics, who advised on the technical side of using a camera, the right equipment for the optimum shot, and the business side of being a self-employed sports photographer.

Izzy continues: “I’m indebted to UON for linking me in with an established sports photographer for extra mentoring. If you watch cricket players, for instance, their feet can indicate how they might hit the ball. Sometimes, for a big shot, they rock back and, alternately, can lean forward for a defending shot. Top tips like this early on in my career have been invaluable.”

Of her own top tips for the best pitch-side photo, Izzy adds: “Without giving away too many trade secrets, I might go for a low angle, so be prepared to get down on your knees – and in all weathers! – with some good background. It’s about telling a human story with lots of emotion, so someone who knows nothing about the game knows what has happened.”

Next up to help was the UON Sports Sciences Team, meaning Izzy could put that expert advice into practice by snapping members of the University’s Elite Athlete Scholarship students.

She also covered a ‘student takeover’ day at Northampton Town Football Club: “I had chance to do some crowd and fan photography and I learned a lot from this, that sports photography is about more than the action on pitch. You need to tell a full visual story, and crowd shots with people’s reactions help by letting you see their emotions.”

And this support has rapidly boosted her portfolio. With international eyes and ears more closely focused on women’s sports, she has ‘papped’ teams such as Sunrisers Cricket Club, Cambridge City Ladies Football and Shelford Women’s Rugby.

Although she has now finished her degree, Izzy maintains close links with UON’s sports teams, something she wants to pass on to other students. She concludes: “Coming back to the University to cover sports here will help me carry on building up my portfolio, trying out new things, and working with a wide variety of photographers, sports journalists and athletes which is great experience for my career. My position is quite unique, so one of my aims is to create a legacy for future students who want to ‘pick up the camera’ from me.”

Find out more about Izzy and her work on her website, or follow her on Instagram: @izzypolessportsphotography

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