• James Battye

Working into Sport: Aspiring Journalists & Eagle-Eyed Photographers

From sports journalism to photography, Kieran Cleeves has achieved a lot in a short period of time. As part of series three of the PitchTALKS Podcast, Mitch and Sam spoke to him about his journey into sport and how he got to where he is today.

Kieran Cleeves is a sports journalist turned sports photographer and has taken pictures in some of the grandest stadiums in the game.

Mitch and Sam sat down with Kieran on the PitchTALKS podcast to talk about everything from his route into the sports industry to his tops tips for those looking to follow in his footsteps.

Falling in love with sport

As a life-long Brighton & Hove Albion supporter and season ticket holder Kieran claims that it has always been his dream to be involved in sport at some level.

‘I’ve always had a passion for sport which started from an early age with my dad taking me to football games since I was in a baby grow.

Kieran was also interested in photography from an early age but never imagined that it would be something that he would one day make a career out of it.

“It was always something that I enjoyed doing but my experiences throughout my professional career since leaving university has kind of led me down that route and certain things that I have done over the years have pretty much taught me that it what I am most passionate about.”

Moving into sports journalism

Whilst at college, Kieran knew that to begin his next chapter he needed to go to university, after deciding to combine the subjects that he was best at: English language, sport and media studies.

He decided that he wanted to study sports journalism at Southampton Solent university.

After graduating university with a degree in sports journalism, Kieran worked his way into a media role at his boy-hood club Brighton, where he worked for three-and-a-half years, covering various roles from interviewing players to designing parts of the club website.

During his time at Brighton, Kieran was able to enjoy the clubs whirlwind 2016/17 season which resulted in promotion to the premier league under boss Chris Houghton.

“The first game of that season I was sitting in the stand with my dad watching the game in my season ticket seat and then the last game of the season I was there working for the club

I’m sitting there in my seat at the Amex one week and then a few weeks later in sitting there on a plane in front of Glen Murray.”

Pathway into a photography career

At the beginning of Kieran’s career at Brighton & Hove Albion photography wasn’t something that was initially in his job role. After noticing club photographer, Paul Hazelwood, struggling on his own with the busy job, Kieran was eager to help out.

“That was when I first really started picking up professional camera equipment and that included going out and helping out taking photos of training sessions, taking photos of the u18’s, u23’s and working up from there helping out when I could.”

It was then time for Kieran to make the difficult decision to leave his boy-hood club behind to pursue a career in photography full-time and move to Nottingham to begin a master’s degree in photography.

“I actually briefly started a masters course in Nottingham in photography which for me after about three to four weeks decided it wasn’t for me, I wasn’t feeling it at all, but sometimes you have got to realise those things to know what you’ve got to do next”.

Kieran’s next photography role was for Pro Sport Images and his first game was “Wallsall V’s Darlington in the FA cup in November and then in the space of two, three months I’m then taking photos of Chelsea V’s Bayern Munich in the Champions league”.

Kieran credits his rapid rise in the industry to his determination and hard work “I could only get to the point where I was covering those matches because of the all the hard-work I had put in and all the other games I had done before that”.

Photography during the pandemic

With far-less sporting opportunities for sports photographers as a result of the pandemic, Kieran decided to use his spare time to get creative with photography and enhance and broaden his skill set.

“I’ve really enjoyed this period of time photography wise, purely because I did see myself as just a sports photographer back at the start of the year and obviously when it got to march and all the sport stopped it was kind of like well what do I do now

“It’s not just sport that I’m interested in, how can I sort of adapt and do something a little bit different.”

Kieran decided that he would use his daily walk during lockdown to push himself outside of his comfort zone.

“I was taking my camera with me and I was roaming around where I live and just trying to tell the story of what’s happening because it’s such a strange time we are in.

As the months progressed and summer rolled around Kieran then decided to document the Black Lives Matter protests through his photography.

“I saw that as an opportunity to go and one, improve my photography, get to know the camera better and get to know certain techniques and get my name out there more and show that I’m not a one trick pony”.

Career advice

To wrap up the latest episode of the podcast Mitch and Sam asked Kieran what top tips he would give to those who wanted a career in either sports journalism or photography. His answer was to follow the three P’s:

Passion - “You’ve got to have the passion for it, otherwise you’re not going to put in that extra ten percent that’s going to make you stand out from other people.”

Patient – “These things aren’t going to happen overnight; you’ve just got to keep believing in yourself and keep pursuing your dreams.”

Persistent - “You can ask a question 10 times and someone might not give you the answer you want but if you ask it that one more time then you never know. You’ve got to keep knocking on people’s doors.”

Kieran was speaking to the boys as part of series three of the PitchTALKS podcast, the podcast that aims to give insight help people to pursue their own career in sport.

If you want to find out more and listen to the full podcast, with Kieran, you can do this by clicking the link below:

Acast - https://lnkd.in/d-RD8Pb

Spotify - https://lnkd.in/dxni5QC

Linktree (Apple, Google, Youtube) - https://lnkd.in/dC9kNtd

Enjoyed this article as part of our Aspiring Journalists section? View more here .

You can follow PitchTALKS on all our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and/or listen to the PitchTALKS podcast via Acast, where you can choose how to listen.

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