At this year’s World Cup, Getty Images had a team of more than 50 photographers and operations staff in Qatar, with a further 20 editors in London and across the world editing the images in real-time and making them available to access within seconds.
Here is a selection of 22 great photographs from its World Cup 2022 library – and the story behind them by the person who captured it:
Dan Mullan: I was positioned in the stadium catwalk high above the pitch, wearing a harness with two cameras and two lenses strapped to me, as Neuer was sent up to contest a corner in the dying moments of the match. It’s not very often you get a picture with both goalkeepers in the frame. I also like the fact that you can’t tell which team is attacking and which is defending. A high angle like this is something you don’t get in most football matches. What makes this frame work is the fact the ball is in the air, which means all the players are looking up at it. Seeing the players’ faces really adds to the picture – especially from high above.
Lars Baron: The Croatia players warmed up on the pitch when it was half in shadow and half in sunlight. When the background was in full light, I thought it would be a nice silhouette to capture, so I moved into the right position to get a good angle on Luka Modric – who is still one of the best players in the world. I set up my camera on the highlight exposer to get his head as a silhouette – everyone can still recognise it is Modric because of the shape.
Lars Baron: When Morocco were awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty area, Croatia were in a perfect position to illustrate a defensive wall. Most teams now place a player lying on the floor to stop a low ball if the wall jumps, so this time I thought it might be nice to focus on the player lying down with the boots of the defenders jumping.
Michael Steele: This image of Richarlison scoring his spectacular goal against Serbia was captured on a remote camera set up in the media tribune. Access to the elevated position only happens at major football tournaments and creates new angles. I had two cameras set up and clamped to a rail in line with the 18-yard box – one with a wider lens showing the supporters and this tighter frame, which I triggered via my handheld camera from my position on the halfway line.
Dan Mullan: This picture was taken using a small remote camera placed inside the goal and fired from my pitchside position. It’s a unique angle that we’ve been working at for a while. What makes this picture work is the Mexico goalkeeper diving in mid-air as the ball crosses the line. Finding different angles at a football match is very difficult these days, but every now and then something will come along that works – and this is one of them. Credit must go to my colleagues at Getty Images who have perfected the technology behind the scenes to allow us to capture moments like this.
David Ramos: Getty Images has been the authorized photographic agency of Fifa since 2009. One of the goals of this relationship is to document what goes on behind the scenes. This image is a clear example. The players all got off the bus together when they arrived at the stadium and entered the dressing room dancing and singing. I knew Ghana’s arrival was special and I decided to wait for them in a corridor halfway between the bus and the dressing room, where I could mingle with the players. The shot was easy – just a wide angle and let them go about their ritual. It’s a pity they did not progress further in the World Cup.
Matthias Hangst: I was assigned to work on the catwalk for this match. It means you are allowed to stay on a stadium roof, secured with a harness and safety cables to cover a football match from a bird’s eye view. It gives a unique and different perspective. I was fully focused on Argentina’s attack as Messi is one of the key players in this tournament. It does not happen too often that he ends up in a clash with a goalkeeper, and I was happy to cover it with a 400mm lens. The goalkeeper’s hand ended up in Messi’s face instead of hitting the ball. Messi missed the resulting penalty, but they still won the game.
Shaun Botterill: It is fun to capture winning moments, but the hardest part of the job is to photograph a team when they exit from the World Cup. After losing the first match, Germany were under pressure to get out of their group. Kai Havertz had come off the bench to score two goals and be awarded player of the match but they were still heading home. You try to be discreet by shooting on a longer lens and not hanging around in their eyeline too long. I was able to take a few discreet frames to capture the moment.
Francois Nel: During knockout matches, it is very important to keep an eye out for off-the-ball incidents. Before the Switzerland v Serbia match, our editors briefed us to look out for key Swiss players Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri. They have Kosovar roots and, in 2018, both players scored and celebrated by forming a double-headed eagle with their hands – a reference to the Albanian flag. This vital information makes you more aware of what is going on. The ball went out of play and Xhaka and Milenkovic exchanged words, so I stayed focused on both players in case the situation escalated.
Maja Hitij: There is always a buzz of excitement in the tunnel when Lionel Messi is playing, particularly for the kids who escort the players. He always looks to engage with the children to make the experience a memorable one – sometimes it’s like the other players don’t exist. The tunnel is an area full of television cameras, so we have to be mindful and not position ourselves in the frame for the live broadcast – it can be hard to find the perfect spot. I positioned myself on the Argentina side and waited for Messi to lead the team from the changing rooms. He greeted every kid, but one girl – who was not his escort – sneaked to the front and told him she is a big fan. This was the moment where she put her thumbs up and he smiled.
Laurence Griffiths: There are fantastic players in this tournament, then there are the mega stars of world football that steal all the attention! Mbappe of France certainly fits that criteria. He was also the star performer on the night, scoring two sensational goals, so I was looking for a picture to illustrate his skill and pace. I achieved this shot by using an incredibly slow shutter speed while panning my camera exactly in tune with his movement – not an easy technique to achieve such a sharp and clearly recognisable face.
Francois Nel: Brazil are known for their flamboyant celebrations when scoring goals, and there was a lot of talk about the celebration being disrespectful towards the opposition. When Neymar scored his team’s second goal from the penalty spot, I knew there could be a special celebration to capture, so I stayed focused on him running towards my corner to get this shot. I then noticed some of his team-mates approaching him to celebrate the goal, so I switched back to a shorter zoom lens to make sure I captured all four players dancing.
Alex Grimm: As specialist sports photographers at the World Cup, you can always plan for a picture before you capture it. However, you cannot predict the players who will run on adrenaline and those that freeze in shock and disbelief. In these rare moments, for just a few seconds, all the concentration on getting the perfect shot is mixed with excitement and euphoria – especially as underdogs Morocco beat Spain to reach the quarter-finals.
Patrick Smith: Netherlands v Argentina was arguably one of the most iconic matches in the tournament. The match went to penalties after a very spicy encounter packed full of incidents. My remote camera behind the goal captured this moment – the first save for Argentina that ultimately helped seal their victory. Martinez was a hero of the shootout and set the tone with this amazing stop from Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk.
Shaun Botterill: I had the opportunity to shoot this match from the catwalk, the unique vantage point we are granted access to for Fifa tournaments. The advantage is that you get a bird’s eye view of the match without having to think about your position on the pitch. Any shot of players watching the penalty shootout unfold would have been a great image, but I was able to capture Argentina’s celebration as soon as the match was decided. I wasn’t expecting this reaction, especially as it was a tense game, so I am always grateful for some luck in my job.
Patrick Smith: I was working from the catwalk and with less than 10 minutes remaining, Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal were on their way out of the tournament. My intention was to follow Ronaldo’s every moment. As soon as he came off the bench in the second half, he was either going to influence the game – perhaps score a breakthrough goal – or be eliminated in what could be his last World Cup match. This image was a result of a missed opportunity late on and it encapsulates the story of Portugal’s loss and Ronaldo’s personal disappointment.
Alexander Hassenstein: For this game, I had the opportunity to work from a high vantage point in the media tribune directly above the benches. Usually, we are positioned on the field of play, so it was nice to get a different perspective – particularly for this shot of Sofiane Boufal of Morocco dancing in celebration with his mother. It was a magical moment as Boufal found his mother from the stands and escorted her to the pitch to celebrate and dance together for the world to see. I was completely fascinated by the fun and the atmosphere as the two danced so beautifully together – a moment they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Richard Heathcote: This image captured the decisive moment in England’s World Cup journey. It was taken with a small camera mounted high up in the top corner of the goal – a unique location that requires a great deal of luck and some custom equipment. We were able to add two remote cameras behind each goal and net cams inside the goals to enhance our coverage with a new perspective on goalmouth action. They are set up a few hours before kick-off and can get knocked off balance by a goal or anything that shakes the net, so for it to remain in place after the first penalty was fortunate. The ability to see a moment without the net in the way draws the viewer in – as if they are a second goalkeeper in the back of the net.
Dan Mullan: For this match I was lucky enough to be up on the stadium catwalk among the lighting rigs and looking down on the pitch. It’s a unique angle that we have been working hard at in this tournament to bring something different from our traditional pitch-side positions. You have a lot more freedom to choose your position above the pitch. It enables you to think about what kind of picture you would like to capture ahead of time. In the first-half, I was positioned directly above the Croatia goal in case Argentina scored. Thankfully, they did just that. What makes this image special is the shape of the bodies – the fully stretched leg of Alvarez knocking the ball past the oncoming goalkeeper, all while Borna Sosa lies on the ground having failed to stop the advance.
Michael Regan: At this World Cup, Getty Images was given exclusive access to the pitch directly after the game. We photographers try to capture the players’ reactions when emotions are at their highest, and images like these allow players to connect directly with the fans through the lens of a camera. I knew Mbappe would deliver a great image – all I needed to do was grab his attention by shouting “Yeeesssss Kyliaaaaannnnn!” It seemed to do the trick as he gave me the perfect shot by celebrating right down my lens. He’s wearing the Morocco shirt of his PSG team-mate Achraf Hakimi, which is a nice touch. For me, this visual sums up the excitement that builds up before the final.
Matthias Hangst: What a final! Messi leading Argentina to world glory with another amazing performance. This image places the focus entirely on Lionel Messi, perfectly placing him in the spotlight moments before walking on stage to lift the World Cup trophy. I was positioned in an exclusive position in the catwalk of the stadium roof to get this unique angle of the world’s greatest player.
David Ramos: This image of Lionel Messi on the shoulders of Sergio Aguero is reminiscent of the scenes in 1986 as Maradona of Argentina held the World Cup trophy aloft in the Azteca Stadium in Mexico. This time there was a moment of comedy as Messi had to avoid hitting his head as they passed under the crossbar!