The 40 United images you need to see from 2018/19

You rarely see them on matchday, they are silent observers at training and you almost never hear from them, yet their work is enjoyed by millions of Manchester United fans around the world.

Worked it out yet? We are talking about the talented club photographers who capture the Reds in action on a daily, weekly and yearly basis, bringing supporters around the globe much closer to the club we all follow. 
 
In the gallery below, we have collated 40 standout images from the 2018/19 season that you simply have to see, showcasing the variety of emotions and events that engulf a single campaign at United.  But first, let’s explain a little about the matchday process for our group of skilled photographers…

PUBLISHING TO MILLIONS OF FANS

Everyone wants to see matchday images as soon as they’re taken, so our photographers rely on staff behind the scenes to transmit them as quickly as possible. Thankfully, advancements in technology have massively reduced the time it takes to click the shutter and publish the photo. Gone are the days when camera film had to be loaded, developed and printed by hand in a darkroom!

These days, our snappers can wirelessly connect their cameras to smartphones that share the images with the club’s media team within seconds. Or, when shooting from pitchside, network cables can be plugged directly into the cameras to produce a real-time feed of images to the picture desk, which is manned by long-serving editor Simon Davies.

The best images are then selected, cropped and captioned before they are shared with the club’s media team, who publish them via the Official App, ManUtd.com and, of course, our many social-media platforms. While you may only see one of them on Instagram for example, or 10 on Twitter, or more elsewhere, just remember that thousands are taken each game and the archive is extensive.

CAPTURING MY DREAM JOB

Club photographer, Ashley Donelon…

“I’ve always been a United fan and have taken photos for over 20 years, so being a club photographer is my absolute dream job. I first got into it as a teenager by using my dad’s film camera and, when I wanted it to be my career, I studied for a national diploma and degree in fine art.

“However, professional photography is an incredibly competitive industry to break into so, after graduation, I worked office jobs to pay my bills and buy camera gear. I’d spend every spare moment taking photographs to grow my portfolio, hone my skills and make contacts in the industry to develop my career. It took around 15 years of extremely intense work to finally become a photographer for my club, Manchester United, but now I’m here I can say it was definitely worth it.

“One key element of my role is matchday photography, which often begins with getting to the stadium before the turnstiles open, to capture images of the fans arriving. This helps to build anticipation for the game and no two matches are the same. Sometimes I’ll shoot from the roof of the Sir Bobby Charlton stand (a scary but exciting experience), the TV gantry, from pitch-side, amongst the fans in the Stretford End, or at an #ILOVEUNITED fan party on another continent!

“Although Old Trafford can hold around 75,000 people, there are millions more fans around the world following the game, so it’s a club photographer’s job to make these supporters feel as close to the action as possible. Photography is a mixture of art and science, with no hard and fast rules, so I’m always experimenting with different equipment and techniques to keep things fresh.

“I’ve always known United had a huge fanbase, but working here and seeing the passion of our supporters across the globe has made me truly appreciate just how immense this club is. 

“When I was a student I would exhibit my photos in small galleries that only a few people would ever see, so the fact that United can now share my photos with millions of people around the world is absolutely mind-blowing! It inspires me to keep working hard, to be the best photographer I can be.”

PUTTING YOUR BODY ON THE LINE

United’s Premier League match against Chelsea in April was critical, not only to the top-four hopes but also to the physical wellbeing of longstanding club photographer John Peters - who has worked closely with his son Matt for years.

John achieved some long-overdue fame when Romelu Lukaku cranked up the power to ease Cesar Azpilicueta off the ball, knocking him off the pitch in the direction of John and his cherished equipment. The Blues’ captain tried all he could to stop his momentum, but the sloping pitch sent him spiralling into John, who had no choice but to take evasive action.

“I was a bit sore, I have to tell you!” John told us the following day. “I was a bit bruised! I’ve got the video on my phone – someone sent it me – and I think I was a bit lucky really. He’s a stocky lad, but if it had been someone bigger I could have been dead! You can see on the last two frames I took before he hit me,” he continued. “They’re not the best, but I got the last two frames and then just put my camera down and thought: ‘Oh, s**t!’ 
 
“You could see he was a lot more concerned for me than himself. But he was fine, too. It all happened very quickly. Obviously the game was still going on, so he just apologised and I told him: ‘Don’t worry, mate, no problem.’ I just sat there a little bit dazed with only one lens, because the other one was in pieces!”

 

OUR TOP 10 INSTAGRAM POSTS

Based on the number of 'likes' for each post, we can reveal that seven posts from the 2018/19 season now sit in the top 10 in our official accounts's history. 

There are currently over 29 million people following United on the social-media platform, receiving the best images to their timeline each and every day. 

One of the most popular posts ever is the image of Eric Cantona, Sir Alex Ferguson and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, taken by our very own club reporter Gemma Thompson after the Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain. Where does that iconic image sit in the latest league table? See the gallery below to find out...

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