IMAGO/Vitalii Kliuiev

How Is EURO 2024 Seen by Top Sports Photographers? Insights from Vitalii Kliuiev

Vitalii Kliuiev, an award-winning and IMAGO photographer, shares his experiences and insights as he covers EURO 2024 in Germany. Discover his journey, daily routine, essential gear, and advice for aspiring sports photographers.

Vitalii Kliuiev
A portrait of Vitalii Kliuiev. Image courtesy of Vitalii Kliuiev.

Vitalii Kliuiev was enjoying his career as a portrait and wedding photographer until he covered the Ukrainian Super Derby match. The “Shakhtar vs. Dynamo” game marked a turning point in his career. “Sports won me over, and my white shirt was replaced by a jersey,” Kliuiev recalls. Describing his passion for sports photography, Vitalii says, “Sports photography has always fascinated me with its dynamism and the ability to capture the emotions of athletes.”

Vitalii is now an IMAGO and award-winning photographer who has recently been shortlisted as a WSPA 2023 finalist. With his camera in hand, he is traveling and covering EURO 2024 in Germany. We sat down with him to learn how a seasoned photographer covers a tournament like EURO 2024, how he has navigated it so far, and his day-to-day experiences. From the daily routine to his important gear and even how he manages the pressures of tight deadlines, he shares insights and advice for anyone looking to step into the world of sports photography.

“At Euro 2024, I aim to create a series of photos that capture the tension and emotions of the game. I want to enjoy the game and highlight it through my photos.” – Vitalii Kliuiev.

IMAGO/Vitalii Kliuiev
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Austria vs France at Mercur Spiel Arena. 17 June 2024, Cologne, Germany.

Could you share some details about your background and what led you to pursue a career in sports photography?

I’m Vitalii Kliuiev, a sports photographer from Ukraine. Sports photography has always fascinated me with its dynamism and the ability to capture the emotions of athletes. I was fortunate to start with a top match, Shakhtar vs. Dynamo, wich is the Ukrainian Super Derby!

What was your first major event as a sports photographer, and how did it influence your professional path?

The Shakhtar vs. Dynamo Super Derby was my first major event. At that time, I already had extensive experience in photography, but in other fields. I enjoyed shooting portraits and weddings. But sports won me over, and my white shirt was replaced by a jersey.

What goals do you aim to achieve at this tournament? What challenges have you faced so far?

At Euro 2024, I aim to create a series of photos that capture the tension and emotions of the game. I want to enjoy the game and highlight it through my photos.

“The key is to wake up on time. An alarm clock helps with that. Then, the day starts with morning preparations: checking equipment, setting up cameras, studying the route to the stadium, and having a media briefing. I arrive at the stadium early to capture the pre-match atmosphere. During the game, I constantly look for interesting angles. After the match, I must find coffee, sort the photos, and select the best ones I didn’t send during the game for publication.” – Vitalii Kliuiev.

Kylian Mbappé EURO 2024
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Austria vs France at Mercur Spiel Arena. 17 June 2024, Cologne, Germany.

IMAGO/Vitalii Kliuiev
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Hungary vs. Switzerland. 15 June 2024, Cologne, Germany.

Can you describe a typical day when you are covering a football tournament?

The key is to wake up on time. An alarm clock helps with that. Then, the day starts with morning preparations: checking equipment, setting up cameras, studying the route to the stadium, and having a media briefing. I arrive at the stadium early to capture the pre-match atmosphere. During the game, I constantly look for interesting angles. After the match, I must find coffee, sort the photos, and select the best ones I didn’t send during the game for publication.

What equipment do you consider essential for covering a football tournament? What technical advice would you give to beginner sports photographers attending this tournament for the first time?

The main advice is to photograph a lot and learn the rules of the game to anticipate key moments and experiment with different shooting angles. Every photographer has their favorite setup. My favorites are Nikon cameras and 35mm, 105mm, 300mm, and 500mm lenses.

How do you handle the pressure of delivering high-quality images on tight deadlines?

It’s like a computer game. The task is to select and send photos for publication within 15 seconds. Handling the pressure is helped by preparation and experience. It’s essential to always have a plan for each match and backup options for unforeseen situations. Additionally, I use software that allows me to quickly select and edit the best shots.

Music also helps me cope with pressure. You can often spot me at the stadium with headphones on, playing great music.

“The main advice is to photograph a lot and learn the rules of the game to anticipate key moments and experiment with different shooting angles.”- Vitalii Kliuiev.

Vitalii Kliuiev EURO 2024
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Italy vs. Albania. 16 June 2024, Dortmund, Germany.

Are there specific moments or players you focus on during this tournament?

I always try to focus on the key moments of the game: goals, saves, and the emotional reactions of players and coaches.

Would you like to add anything?

Photography is not just about technique; it’s the art of conveying emotions and stories. It’s important not to be afraid to experiment. Sports photography offers many opportunities for creativity and self-expression, so the main thing is to enjoy the process.

“Music also helps me cope with pressure. You can often spot me at the stadium with headphones on, playing great music.”- Vitalii Kliuiev.

Vitalii Kliuiev
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Italy vs. Albania. 16 June 2024, Dortmund, Germany.

Vitalii Kliuiev
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Hungary vs. Switzerland. 15 June 2024, Cologne, Germany.

Italy vs. Albania EURO 2024
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Italy vs. Albania. 16 June 2024, Dortmund, Germany.

Hungary vs. Switzerland EURO 2024
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Hungary vs. Switzerland. 15 June 2024, Cologne, Germany.

Vitalii Kliuiev
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Hungary vs. Switzerland. 15 June 2024, Cologne, Germany.

Vitalii Kliuiev
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Italy vs. Albania. 16 June 2024, Dortmund, Germany.

Vitalii Kliuiev
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Austria vs France at Mercur Spiel Arena. 17 June 2024, Cologne, Germany.

France fans EURO 2024
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, fans during the group stage game Austria vs France at Mercur Spiel Arena. 17 June 2024, Cologne, Germany.

Vitalii Kliuiev
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, fans during the group stage game Hungary vs. Switzerland. 15 June 2024, Cologne, Germany.

Kylian Mbappe suffered a broken nose
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Austria vs France at Mercur Spiel Arena. Kylian Mbappe suffered a broken nose. 17 June 2024, Cologne, Germany.

Vitalii Kliuiev
IMAGO / Vitalii Kliuiev | The 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Group stage, Austria vs France at Mercur Spiel Arena. 17 June 2024, Cologne, Germany.

See Vitalii Kliuiev’s photos with IMAGO here.

See IMAGO exclusive EURO 2024 collections.

Discover THE GAME MAGAZINE’s EURO 2024 Special Edition.

Delve into the world of UEFA EURO 2024 with IMAGO ZINE.