Quality Photography: Wrexham’s Secret Weapon

Wrexham has many public weapons in our pursuit of promotion (and world domination!) However, it’s worth acknowledging a rather potent secret weapon in our arsenal.

The quality of photography available to the club is remarkable, and it might not be immediately apparent, this is an immense benefit as we try to push forwards.

Great photography and Wrexham AFC are no strangers, of course.. As a reader of the Leader, you ought to be more aware than most of the work of Les Evans, the doyen of Racecourse photographers who chronicled the club’s fortunes for many years. He even had an exhibition of his work, opened by then manager Brian Flynn.

Les loved the club and was fiercely protective of it. He was also willing to stand up for those who worked tireless for Wrexham AFC and, while he never sought credit or praise for his actions, I often saw him stand up for such people. He was not frightened to speak truth to power.

He would have been delighted to see the photography which comes out of the club now.

Gemma Thomas, Rob Stead and Lloyd Jones are outstanding photographers, and when you add in the phenomenal videos of Amy Davies, you can see that the club has a remarkably rich range of choice when it comes to visual content.

It’s all such a far cry from not so long ago, when we struggles to scrape any footage together. Of course, the local media would help, but it would be wrong push your luck and take advantage of that relationship, so I’d regularly have to screen capture a fuzzy shot from the match video to make a thumbnail for the highlights. Have a look back on Youtube and you’ll see how dramatic the turning point was!

Now, more than ever, the quality of an image can mean everything. Having such a remarkable array of quality pictures from each game is a real luxury, and something which helps spread the word around the globe as we look to build the club up into something unimaginable. Sleek graphics made from great action pictures are the basis on which social media works, and we’ve got everything we need.

The word I keep wanting to come back to is quality. The variety of the pictures, the framing, the ability to spot the subtle detail, understand the gravity of a moment, or capture a mood is phenomenal.

There are shots where the depth of field makes a picture pop. There are shots where the emotion spills out. There are shots you want to frame and have all over the house.

Having a team working on the games is wonderful too. For me, one of the iconic moments of following Wrexham was at Northampton in 1992. We needed to win to go up, and Gary Bennett slammed in the first of his two decisive goals home, ran into the net and thrust his face through the net to roar in communal joy with the thousands housed in a temporary stand which strained with their load behind the goal.

Les Evans’ picture of the goal is brilliant, but no matter how good you are, you can’t predict the future. As it happened, he wasn’t in the right spot to capture the best angle of Bennett’s eye-popping, ferocious glee. Now, with a team on duty, we capture those angles. As evidence, consider the great shots of Ollie Palmer’s celebration on Saturday.

Other pictures taken on Saturday illustrate that the value of having such a superb team goes beyond the commercial. The picture taking during the tribute to Nigel Williams deserves to instantly be one of the club’s iconic images. Poor Nigel passed away the day after enjoying our winagainst Halifax, and the round of applause for him symbolised why a football club is important.

It showed a community at its very best, coming together to show appreciation and love. For a grieving family, it must have been a powerful reminder that they are not alone. Great photography can be a poignant chronicle of moments that matter. I hope Nigel’s family can take pride in seeing that brilliant picture of his three friends swirling their shirts over their heads in heartfelt tribute.

The value of that picture surpasses the commercial value our photographers bring to the club and goes right to the core of who were are and what our club is for.

It was somewhat ironic to hear, on ESPN’s commentary of the game at Blyth, Guy Mowbray claim our official photographer had harangued his co-commentator, Alan Smith before the game. Smith, of course, was part of the Arsenal side which was humiliated at The Racecourse in 1992.

The photographer in Mowbray’s anecdote was a man, though. Wrexham photographer at the game was Gemma Thomas. If you mistake her for a man, your eyesight isn’t up to commentary!

In a way it was hearing this which made me want to point out the photographers’ good work. They’re there come rain or shine, and believe me, neither of those conditions lead to a pleasant working day for a photographer!

It can be warm up in the stands on a winter’s evening, especially now we’re surrounded by people for the first time since the 1980s! It’s a lot less pleasant to be on the touchline, and no easy feat to stay alert and operate a camera. Photography is art, a camera is a creative instrument, keeping your standards up when your fingers are frozen is an achievement!


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