Michael Owen, who formerly worked in a senior role for Canon and Panasonic/Lumix cameras, is now involved in a new sports-photography magazine called 2POINT8. Financial support is being sought from a Kickstarter campaign, so with only a few days left to go, we caught up with Michael to find out more.

Michael Owen

Why launch a sports magazine now?
An ex-Getty and Reuters photographer called Scott Heavey originally came up with the idea. During lockdown he was looking for reading material as he wasn’t able to work… he now runs own agency. Anyway, Scott was getting bored and wanted to read something that inspired him!

With far fewer people able to get to sports events over the last year owing to the lockdowns, we believe the appetite for great sports photography is bigger than ever.

So where do you come in?
Scott and I had stayed in touch since we worked together on a project at Lumix, and he asked if I wanted to help. I was immediately onboard.

We both felt that a lot of writing on sports photography, both in print and online, was quite broad, while we wanted to read more about the art of sports photography.

In other words, we wanted to produce a magazine that would not just appeal to photographers, but to sports fans, too – focussing on the how and whys of an image being shot that particular way.

I believe that we still tend to think about iconic sports moments in still images, rather than TV footage, so we also wanted to document the people behind those shots.

But why decide to do a magazine?
Lots of books are published about sports photography, but there is no periodical that touches on what is happening right now – new pictures, stories, and ways of shooting are coming along all the time.

So what is planned for issue one?
We wanted to get the first issue published prior to this summer Tokyo’s Olympics, for obvious reasons. We’ve got some great sports photographers onboard.

One of the top-level awards on Kickstarter is one of six signed prints by Tom Jenkins from the Guardian, who’ll also be talking about what it’s like to be a sports photographer for a major daily newspaper.

Adrian Dennis from AFP is also talking about what it’s like to be commissioned by a global news agency, what kind of different briefs they give you.

Other contributors include Sam Mellish, official Team GB photographer at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018, and Chloe Knott, who is one of the official IOC young photographers… we’ve also got David Burnett lined up to contribute, and Richard Heathcote from Getty Images.

Kickstarter backers can claim free prints depending on their level of support

Do you think there is still some snobbery about sports photography, particularly in artier circles or from photographers in other genres?
Definitely. Everyone thinks it is just the throwaway stuff you see on the back page of newspapers, but there’s so much more to it. I am on the World Sports Photography Award judging panel, and the quality of the images being taken is superb. Yes, it’s not your fine-art portraiture or architecture, but there is so much skill involved.

Just think about it – it’s not like a studio shoot, you can’t ask for a goal or celebration to be repeated if you miss it. Your camera has to be instinctive, and part of you, so you can’t be fumbling around with settings. A lot of photographers missed Zidane being sent off at the 2006 World Cup final, for example, as they were all looking for other things.

What’s more, the snobs don’t realise that top sports photographers are also doing big commercial shoots for brands as the athletes know and trust them. We want to tell all these stories!

Further reading
Take winning sports photos with second-hand gear