8/25: Beckham on the Beach by Simon Mooney

8/25. I flew to Brazil to photograph David Beckham at the launch of his new football academy but, the night before, he drove out to see the location so I went along with my cameras and a borrowed football. The light had just about gone by the time we arrived but we managed a ten minute kickabout. I reluctantly used flash, so he wasn't completely in shadow, but this got hit by a stray shot early on and broke. The next day at the launch, I showed the best frames from the beach to David and his team and they agreed to release a few along with the official photographs. They got quite a bit of press coverage which apparently didn't go down well with Fabio Capello, the new England manager. He left Beckham out of his first squad, announced a couple of days later, and apparently stranded him on 99 caps... (For 25 Years of Mooneyphoto)

7/25: New York Weather Check by Simon Mooney

7/25. It was the perfect brief for a street photographer: A travel insurer wanted a set of pictures that avoided people but illustrated words like ‘security’, ‘together’ and ‘home’. I spotted this New Yorker checking the weather on my way from Dakar to São Paulo. (For 25 Years of Mooneyphoto)

6/25: Defoe Celebration by Simon Mooney

6/25. I loved working for Spurs at White Hart Lane and, within reason, pretty much had the run of the place (just like Jermain Defoe). Most football snappers would be disappointed when a player turns away to celebrate but I had quite an open brief so was happy to focus on the fans. I also like to have a different perspective so was in one of the elevated TV positions with an 800mm telephoto which is probably twice as long as the standard football lens. The club published the photograph widely and I’ve always wondered how many of the fans spotted themselves - there’s about a hundred of them in there and it’s interesting to see the range of expressions. This kind of real-world experience has been invaluable in setting up the advertising productions we’ve done with fans for clients like McDonald’s, Sony, Coca-Cola and EE. (For 25 Years of Mooneyphoto)

5/25: World Cup Warm-up by Simon Mooney

5/25. With England’s participation in this summer’s Russian World Cup making the news, I’m reminded of the Finals in Germany 12 years ago when I was working behind the scenes with the senior men’s team. This picture, taken just before the game against Trinidad and Tobago in Nürnberg, is one of my favourites but makes me wince slightly when I think of the circumstances. The dressing room is a busy place but I was drawn to the showers by the sound of metal studs on tiles and a football hammering against the wall. I wasn’t surprised to find Wayne Rooney in there as he was often first to be changed and almost always had a ball so I said I’d trust him not to hit me and sat on the floor in the firing line. He had one more shot while I was there and it grazed the top of my head which no doubt explains the mischievous look on his face. (For 25 Years of Mooneyphoto)

4/25: Sisters by Simon Mooney

4/25. Somebody once asked if I get permission from the people I photograph on the street (or the bus) and I have to say I don't. It would be interfering, risk changing the dynamic and they might say no. It's important to be considerate and polite of course and I don't think that's a contradiction. Anyway, I reckon these four ladies travel around London on the 476 just waiting for someone to take their picture. Surely they must be sisters? If only I'd asked them. (For 25 Years of Mooneyphoto)

3/25: Network Q Kiss by Simon Mooney


“If anything gets overheated, it won’t be the car” ran the headline on this Vauxhall Network Q shot for Cogent and it’s always been a favourite. The kissing couple were a real item discovered by Keely, our producer, in a corner of Leeds’ Hi-Fi Club one Saturday night while the romantic pastel lighting and twinkling stars came courtesy of Harvey Nichols’ window display. If I had to explain the rearview mirror casting the shadow across his eyes, I’d say it was inspired by the masked ball in Romeo and Juliet… (For 25 Years of Mooneyphoto)

2/25: Umbro Coat by Simon Mooney


This is one of four ads we shot as tests over a couple of days in the late 1990s. Dave Godfree and Nick Hastings, the creative team from DMB&B, needed something fast to present at a sales conference so faxed over the layouts and left us to it. There wasn't much of a budget so my nephew Luke and two of his mates met us at Leeds Road Playing Fields in Huddersfield one night after school. They asked what I wanted them to do so I said “set up some goals with your coats and start taking shots”. 20 rolls of film later, we called it a day and they went home for their teas. This is the very first of the 720 pictures I took and I remember it clearly because after the ball hit the post, it continued with some velocity and hit me where it hurts. The pictures went down so well that a budget was found and we were invited to do them ‘properly’. I didn't think we’d capture such special moments again and luckily the agency agreed, paying us the money as a usage fee for the tests instead. The campaign went on to win a Gold at the Cannes Lions, a Silver at the Campaign Press Awards and a D&AD Pencil. (For 25 Years of Mooneyphoto)

1/25: Menen Gate by Simon Mooney


It’s 25 years since I started out as a photographer and I’ve been thinking about the pictures that have been important to me. I took this one, of the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, while I was on tour playing guitar with a band in the early 1990s. After the soundcheck, I went out for a walk with my new Nikon, turned a corner and was stopped in my tracks by the the Memorial to the Missing with its 54,000 names from World War One. I lost all sense of time as I tried to cover every angle but eventually wandered back to the venue. As I got closer and heard faint but familiar music, I thought it odd they were playing one of our records. Then I realised it was live, the band were on stage and I was late so the roadie was playing guitar. He was much better than me anyway and this frame really got me thinking I might be better at composing photographs.

50 Photographs of Hackney by Simon Mooney

We've had an office in the north London part of Hackney for five years now and I spend a lot of time walking its streets. I almost always carry a camera and have taken thousands of pictures of the people and places I see. The built environment has always fascinated me and I'm fortunate that others in the borough have organised themselves to promote conservation and encourage the study of its history.

One such group is The Hackney Society which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year and is publishing a book - Hackney: Portrait of a Community 1996-2017 - to mark the occasion. They kindly asked me to put together an exhibition of photographs that could help promote it so I decided to choose these 50 of my personal favourites.


Chingford Boys by Simon Mooney


Back in February I got a call from The Sun newspaper: Did I have pictures of Tottenham Hotspur star Harry Kane with David Beckham from ten years ago?

I had no idea they’d met, but it seemed Harry was one of the kids from David’s old school in Chingford that attended his football academy launch in March 2005. We were official photographers for the project and covered the event so I had a trawl through the archive.

The Sun wanted a traditional ‘head-on’ shot of the two of them to camera and, funnily enough, Harry had been one of the two kids stood either side of the England captain in the team photo for the press pack. On the day i was trying to get different angles to everyone else so all my pictures of this were from the sides and even the back. I did spot Sun photographer Dickie Pelham in one of the latter so gave him a ring and suggested he might already have the shot, which he did.

Even though I didn’t have the picture the paper wanted, I did have quite a few frames that would have been exclusive given the free access I had on the day. Here’s a few of them:

The Hackney Half Marathon by Simon Mooney

The banner hung on a fence in the local park caught my eye: 'Hackney Festival of Fitness'.

I love taking pictures of people running around London, it appeals to both the sports and the street photographer in me. This event was sponsored by Virgin Sport - which I hadn't heard of before - and based on the Hackney Half marathon.

Flora asked me to shoot the London one a few years ago and trying to get around that route was a real problem. I learned from the experience and, for this one, maximised my shooting time by staying close to the start/finish line on Hackney Marshes.

On the day, I set off at 7am to walk the four miles to the location through the streets of north London, hoping to get pictures of runners on their way. After only ten minutes, I got two quick frames of a runner warming up through the railings of a Stoke Newington churchyard. It felt like a good start.

Once I arrived, hi-visibilty official photographers were everywhere so I wandered around and tried to take up positions that would give me a different perspective.

I mainly used a 600mm lens which allowed me to really pick out individuals from the field of thousands. The light was very special at times (which is half the job) and this, together with the atmosphere, made it a good day for pictures.

A Cross to Bear by Simon Mooney

I've been working on the new website and portfolio just lately and didn't think I'd taken too many street pictures so far this year. Now that I've checked, I haven't completely wasted my time carrying a camera between Huddersfield and London and around the capital on buses, tube trains and pavements. I seem to be developing a thing for dapper old gentlemen and wish I'd been braver with the boxer on the bus.

Beckham on the Beach by Simon Mooney

Nine years ago this weekend I went to Brazil to photograph David Beckham at a football academy press launch on the beach. The night before the job, he drove out to see the location and I went along with my cameras.

The light had just about gone by the time we arrived but we managed ten minutes with a football. I reluctantly used flash which got hit by a stray shot after a few minutes and broke.

I showed a few of the best frames to David and his team at the launch and they agreed to release some along with the official pictures. They got quite a bit of press coverage as the England squad was announced the next day.



Rio, 10:19am by Simon Mooney

Searching through the football archive recently, I found this picture of Rio Ferdinand at the 2002 World Cup in Japan. It's one of the very first taken as part of a six-year behind the scenes project with the England players and staff. The location is the massage room of the team hotel the morning of the quarter-final against Brazil in Shizuoka on 21 June. Even though I went on to shoot another 100,000 frames until Fabio Capello arrived and things changed, it's still one of my favourites.

Warming-Up in the Desert by Simon Mooney


On Friday I photographed a friend’s wedding in Dubai on the shores of the Persian Gulf. The day after, the celebrations were to continue in an executive box at the Emirates Rugby Sevens tournament just outside the city and they kindly invited me along.

Being neither much of a rugby fan, or particularly sociable when it comes to corporate hospitality, I applied for a photographers pass before leaving the UK and packed my 600mm as well as my suncream with the intention of watching the action through the lens pitchside.

The wedding day was a long one and my phone pedometer reckoned I’d walked 13 miles. Much of this was desperately trying to find angles where the two video cameramen weren’t in shot. I eventually got to bed at 3am on the Saturday morning and my alarm went off almost immediately four and half hours later. The photo pass for the rugby now seemed like a very bad idea but I was committed so off I went.

As soon as I got into the stadium and dropped my bags behind the goals I was hemmed in by the Canadian team which had just come out for the warm-up. The players were enormous, intense and impressive in the light and heat and a different proposition to the footballers I’m used to seeing at such close quarters. Over the next few hours, I mostly had my back to the match action and concentrated instead on the details of the other teams’ preparations for the short, sharp 14 minute games coming thick and fast.

Rush Hour at Liverpool Street by Simon Mooney


These pictures were taken on the edge of the City of London over a few early weekday mornings in January 2014. The station alternated between empty and packed as commuters from the east rushed through or stood still, occupied by coffee cups, newspapers and mobile phones.

Cheviot House, Whitechapel by Simon Mooney

This morning I turned a corner and was stopped in my tracks by the magnificent Cheviot House. I saw it from a distance for the first time last week and, once again, it was making the most of a weak winter sun. The night before, I'd been struggling to find much quality in the gigantic but brittle-looking City skyline a mile to the west, other than its sheer scale and The Gherkin.

Built for Kornberg & Segal textile merchants in 1937, Cheviot House sadly appears to stand empty after serving the local council for over 50 years. Demolition for new housing has been threatened but more positive proposals for community use have also been made. If it no longer has real value as commercial space, it could make wonderful social housing which is desperately needed in the area.

This article from the East London Advertiser is the most recent I can find on the current situation but I'd like to know more. I'm hoping the recently established East End Preservation Society (which I photographed at its launch) will have an interest so those of us who value a building like this can contribute to decisions on its future.

My First England Game by Simon Mooney

On 29 May England drew 1-1 with the Republic of Ireland at Wembley. The newspapers remembered how the last meeting in Dublin 18 years ago was abandoned when England fans rioted.

Back in February 1995 I was just starting as a sports photographer and had done a few jobs for Empics, the Nottingham photo agency. I had a meeting there with Ross Kinnaird just before the Dublin game and heard which hotel they'd be staying in so booked myself into the same one.

It was the first time I'd shot the national team. I'd managed to get a photo pass from Andy Oldknow at The FA who we worked with as the governing body became more commercial.

On the night of the game, I met the Empics photographers Ross and Steve Morton as they were preparing to leave the hotel. I said I'd give them anything interesting I shot.

After nearly half an hour of the game, I had almost nothing and couldn't believe how dark it was. My international debut had started badly. Then the Irish scored and it went seriously wrong. Fans were coming onto the pitch as the players left it, objects were being thrown from the top of a stand and police and stewards moved in. The game stopped and confusion started. A photographer was seriously injured by a missile and some of us packed up. Others focused their long lenses on the crowd and some moved onto the pitch towards the fans, police and stewards.

I hardly remember taking my best picture. These days I would have seen it on the camera's LCD but back then I was shooting film. Scuffles flared up and I shot a few frames of one in particular with my wide lens. I bumped into Nick, the Empics technician processing the film, and gave him the roll I'd just shot.

It took ages to get back to the hotel but when I did, Ross told me he thought I might have got a big picture which had been wired with a few others. The neg was thin (I'd forgotten to tell Nick I'd uprated the film) but it was a good frame of three England fans attacking a steward in front of a Union Flag. I was so relieved it was sharp.

I woke up next morning and put the television on. The riot at Lansdowne Road was headline news and, as the papers were reviewed, my picture was on the front page of nine out of ten of the UK nationals.

A Dublin landlady had also seen the newspapers and called the police - the three fans were asleep upstairs in her guesthouse. They were arrested and convicted with the story continuing for a couple of days in the tabloids.

At least one of the men I photographed said it had ruined his life. I only hope it was a temporary, if very public, low point.