In a new series, Mikey Riva captures football’s dramatic final moments
A football match is 90 minutes, but there’s always more time. A brief sixty seconds to take a throw in? A jaw-dropping seven minutes that will swing the balance of a league? In these moments, the referee holds the power: A glance at the watch or a signal to an assistant can instill hope, fear, disbelief, or grim determination. A few more minutes is all that’s needed for a moment of magic.
Photographer Mikey Riva examines the drama of these final moments in “Stoppage Time,” a new show opening Friday in Venice, California. His images come from the sidelines and stands of stadiums on both sides of the Atlantic, where Riva captured the often fraught emotions of spectators and the intense focus of players. Eight by Eight spoke to the California-based photographer about the project, his passion for football, and the challenges of shooting in the high energy environment of a match.
Jackson Culley: What is your relationship to football? Are you a casual fan or avid supporter?
I’ve been playing football since I was five years old, and I have been hooked ever since. I played all the way through high school but became more of a supporter once in college. I enjoy watching all leagues and competitions, however, I am a massive Arsenal fan.
What was the influence behind the Stoppage Time series? What stood out to you from an artistic perspective about this element of the game?
I was on assignment with Tifo magazine to document the Supporters Cup in Los Angeles at the Stub Hub Center. It was LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders. After the match was over I began to go through my photographs and realized that my most powerful images were during the stoppage time periods from each half. I thought to myself, “Why not make a collection of photographs that would focus on the suspended elements of stoppage time?” The title of the collection works nicely in my favor due to the fact that it also represents the visual of time actually stopping for a brief moment during the action of the match.
What was the process of shooting this body of work and over what period of time did it take place?
I started this project back in 2012 when I was studying abroad in Berlin, Germany. I knew there was a game being played in England at Wembley so I took advantage of the opportunity. Roughly half of the games I documented were photographed from the field and the other half from the stands. I wanted to get both interaction with the supporter groups and the action on field at close range. Both shooting styles help build my voice greatly. The project allowed me to examine the similarities in the fans’ and players’ raw emotions.
What do you enjoy most about shooting during a match? What challenges are there?
A huge challenge is deciding where you want to shoot from during the game. I usually have a media pass at the games I shoot, which is great because you are literally on the field. The only downside is that you are only allowed to be stationed on the far sides of the pitch (where the goals are). You also have to stay on whatever side you choose for that entire half. So there a few aspects you have to keep in mind. The lighting and the time of day are big factors. Picking the location you believe the photogenic events will take place is tricky. A lot of luck is required.
What was your favorite image and why?
One of my favorites images has to be, “Footie Faith,” which is the shot of the boy with his face painted like the British flag. This was the first game in England I had attended at Wembley Stadium for the European Cup qualification. It was England vs. Switzerland. I believe I captured this boy’s expression during the first half stoppage time period where England were down 2-1. I love how you can just feel this kid’s passion flow through his body language and glance.
What is the most iconic photograph of football to you?
Right off the bat, I have three that stand out to me. The first visual has to be Diego Maradona’s ‘hand of God’ photograph. Its just such an iconic incident and packs a so much information into one image. Since I am American, I would have to say my second image is from the 1999 Women’s World Cup, when penalty kicker winner, Brandi Chastain, removes her jersey after scoring. The last image would certainly be Pele and Bobby Moore swapping jersey’s after a World Cup Match in Mexico, in 1970. England lost that particular game 0-1 to Brazil. In the image we can see both players showing great mutual respect for one another.
Check out the show this Friday & Saturday March 6-7 at RIVAWORKS 1306 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice, CA 90291