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My Epic Journey

Richard Burley/Epic Action Imagery

17 Jun 2020

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“Where has the money for the sofa gone?”

Hearing this question come from the hallway as I sat in the kitchen having breakfast on a Saturday morning, I realised I was rumbled. I sheepishly walked into the hallway to be confronted by a quizzical expression from my wife as she held out the bank statement from our joint account. I only really had one option and that was to confess that the money for a new sofa had been spent on a new lens for my camera and fuelling my interest in sports photography. I calmly explained the situation and was somewhat sharply told that I need to use that lens to make that money back again. Challenge accepted.
10 years later, there’s been a total career change. 18 countries visited and over 1000 events covered, as well as a new sofa - eventually Within a few weeks of that conversation I had formed my first company and covered my first events. Things moved quite quickly and through a moment of good fortune I made contact with the owners of a new race company called Spartan Race. It was these events that would accelerate much of my development both in terms of a business owner and as an event photographer. I’ve been fortunate to cover Spartan events in several countries ranging from the desert in Arabia to a freezing ski hill in Sweden and I’ve learnt many lessons along the way.
Covering football was an early activity too. Initially this was local league and amateur matches but it wasn’t too long before I found myself at Carrow Road covering Norwich City as they achieved back-to-back promotions.
I moved to Burton in 2012 for my proper job but the photo business had started to grow quite considerably, and by 2014 I made the decision to go full time and change my career completely.
The career change was quite a culture shock as, after 20 years in education, things had been quite steady and I suddenly found myself in the more choppy waters of self-employment. The event calendar continued to grow and the destinations became more exotic. Events in Canada, Germany, Denmark and the Norway were swiftly followed by contracts in the Middle East, Far East and even a month-long trip to Australia. By 2019 we added events in the United States and formed a new independent company based in Montréal to manage the growing North American calendar.
More locally, I’ve been asked to cover for Burton Albion matches on behalf of the Burton Mail and this has been a real pleasure.
Whilst the past six years have been enormous fun and there have been some proper adventures, there’s also been a lot of lessons and a lot of hard work.
I was recently asked what the most important skill for a sports photographer is. It was a tough question, but I think the most important thing is a genuine passion for being outdoors and a genuine enthusiasm to put the hard work in to get the images that people want.
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