Working with The Olympics and The Premier League

Behind The Scenes of working with The Olympics, Nottingham Forest, The Premier League and discussing my sport film career!


Ben Illingsworth

4 min read

Barnsley FC Drone ShotBarnsley FC Drone Shot

Intro Photography at Barnsley FC

I have always been a massive football fan. I first started working in football as a photographer at Barnsley FC after chatting with some of the people there. I used to work as a steward at the club! I loved the opportunity to work for my local team and capture the academy and first-team players. You can see my photos below! Working at Barnsley FC was my first experience of working in sports which lead to work at Sheffield United and then to a variety of different  live streamed sports. Without this experience, I don't think I would have been able to pursue further opportunities, including working with Formula E and Eurosport.

Diego Jota

(Liverpool FC)

I worked with footballer Diogo Jota to shoot a video for LG, showcasing his brand new TV delivered to his home (LG, please send me one!).

My role was in the lighting department, where I illuminated the green screens and shaped the light for the commercials, creating various looks. Jota was very kind and a pleasure to work with. I secured the opportunity by proactively sending my CV, highlighting my previous experience in sports projects, which was limited at the time. The more people you engage with, the better chances you have of discovering great opportunities! You can watch the final video by clicking on the drone photo of Anfield Stadium below.

Capturing Cheikhou Kouyaté's Triumphs


Being a Nottingham Forest supporter, the opportunity to film a video at the iconic City Ground was a dream come true for me. My allegiance to Forest dates back to my childhood, attending matches with my dad, as evidenced by the photo below. Take a glimpse at my collection of Forest merchandise, signed items, and my Forest-themed gym – a testament to my lifelong devotion. The joy of Forest's return to the Premier League heightened the perfect timing for my involvement in this project.

Collaborating with the Olympics and Nottingham Forest, I embarked on the production of a video paying homage to the illustrious football career of Cheikhou Kouyaté. This blog post provides an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at this distinctive project, offering insights into the player's career, his Olympic triumphs, and his contributions to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Cheikhou Kouyaté's Background

Born on December 21, 1989, in Dakar, Senegal, Kouyaté has solidified his reputation as a defensive powerhouse and a genuine leader on the field. Renowned for his versatility, exceptional ball-winning skills, and aerial dominance, he has emerged as a pivotal figure for both club and country.

Joining Forest in 2021, Kouyaté swiftly endeared himself to fans with his commanding presence in the heart of the defense. Our interviews with him, coaching staff, and passionate fans provided unique perspectives on his impact.

Olympic Glory

One of the most memorable chapters in Kouyaté's career unfolded on the grand stage of the Olympic Games. A key player for the Senegal national team, he played a pivotal role in securing the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The video captures the intensity of the matches, the camaraderie among the players, and Kouyaté's instrumental role in leading his team to victory. Emotional interviews with teammates and coaches highlight the significance of this achievement not only for Kouyaté but for the entire nation.

Africa Cup of Nations Triumph

Our project also delved into Kouyaté's success on the international stage, particularly at the Africa Cup of Nations. Senegal's victory in the 2021 tournament marked a historic moment for the country, with Kouyaté's leadership and defensive prowess proving integral to the team's success. Exclusive interviews with Kouyaté provided insights into the challenges, triumphs, and the sheer joy of representing one's nation on the continental stage.

Planning of the Shoot

The meticulous planning for the shoot involved crafting risk assessments, storyboards, and shot lists to maximize the limited time with footballers. Efficiency was paramount, necessitating a well-thought-out shooting order.

Lighting Setup

Utilizing professional equipment, our lighting setup included the Aputure 300dii with a Godox Soft Box and grid as the Keylight, focusing the beam of light. Additional Aputure MT Pro and T2c Tube lights, Aputure 60d as a Fill Light, and a reflector for outdoor shots ensured versatile and effective lighting. The smaller Aputure lights, such as the p60c, proved invaluable for their portability and versatility in adding fill or extra light for b-roll.

Camera Setup

Equipped with two FS7ii Cameras, a combination of 70-200 lenses and Samyang Lens Kit, Metabones Speedbooster, and a slider, our camera setup ensured comprehensive coverage. The emphasis on capturing ample football footage, particularly b-roll, was underscored, while employing stabilizing techniques like three points of contact and lens stabilizers enhanced the stability of our shots.


Working alongside the Olympics and Nottingham Forest to create a video tribute to Cheikhou Kouyaté's career was both an honor and a privilege. It was the realization of a childhood dream to collaborate with my favorite team. A massive thank you to all of the crew and to everyone involved!

After concluding the shoot, a visit to the gift shop was a must, grabbing some items for both my dad and myself.

Feel free to check out the final video below!

Liverpool FC Drone ShotLiverpool FC Drone Shot
Nottingham Forest First Match
Nottingham Forest First Match
Aputure Lighting Setup
Aputure Lighting Setup
Barnsley FC PhotographerBarnsley FC Photographer

Forest Gym Before and After

Some of my favourite sport projects!

World At Their Feet - Olympics World At Their Feet - Olympics

The Final Video!

Interview Lighting and Camera Setup

Nottingham Forest Drone Photo
Nottingham Forest Drone Photo