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Opinion: Meet Sam Cornish – The photographer looking at Tottenham through a refreshing lens

Sam Cornish has quickly become a staple of a Spurs matchday, showcasing his high-quality photography skills. These photos have a unique focus on the fans and matchday culture rather than the players and game. It is this refreshing outlook on photography that has gifted us with some stunning images of the fans’ reactions to moments in this season.

Cornish, who just turned 30, told Spurs Web that he “wanted to capture the culture and the essence of what it’s like to be at football”. This is not usually done as licenced photographers sit pitch side whereas Cornish brings his camera into the stands and concourse to capture these moments of madness. The photos taken by Cornish provide a snapshot into what it is like to be at football and why it is such a special place to be.

A photo that was shared around the Spurs community and most notably shared by James Maddison was the remarkable shot of Pape Sarr sliding into the corner after scoring against Man United. What made this photo so special was the background, a sea of white shirts in the summer sun ecstatic to see the start of the Ange Postecoglou reign. Cornish also has an interesting link with Postecoglou as they both grew up in Australia. Sam, however, moved to England over seven years ago.

Just like the 62,000 that attended that day, Cornish felt it “was really special”. He said: “I think that work and that picture and what I captured that day was pretty special because I’m hoping we’ll look back on that in years and be like that was day one of the beginning of something special.”

For many that game and in particular, Sarr’s goal was the mark of the arrival of Postecoglou. A young player flying through the middle and hitting a cutback ball on the volley to send Spurs into jubilation, and Cornish’s photo captured this moment flawlessly.

Sam Cornish – The Tottenham Hotspur photo king

Taking these images in moments of euphoria has its own struggles. After the late Kulusevski winner against Sheffield United, Cornish “got the shots of him just before he’s about to strike the ball”. He continued: “I think I ended up about three, four rows down the south stand after that. So it doesn’t always go to plan, but for good reason.”

This is arguably what makes the photos so special as they come from a fan that understands the moments of madness. “At the end of the day, I’m a fan and like I feel everything just as much as everybody else, and there’s nothing I love more than just like, the absolute mayhem that unfolds when a goal is scored.”

As of yet, Cornish has mainly taken photos from the perspective of the fans but when questioned on if he would like to be a licensed photographer pitchside he said: “I’ve not been presented with that dilemma yet, I’d have to think about it. I’m kind of working on a project at the moment, which I’m hoping will lead to it. But I genuinely think I’d spend most of the time you know, pitch side but facing the wrong way.”

Despite his fantastic commitment to the fans Cornish was able to take an incredible portrait of Maddison on media access day for the Premier League. “If you’d asked me a year ago, if I’d be in that situation, I would have laughed at you. And, to be there I just felt I was pinching myself the whole time and just loved that, you know, life throws these crazy things at you sometimes and you just gotta grab it, and run with it.”

Once again, Cornish had taken a photo that captured the changing of the guard at Spurs, with a superstar walking through the doors and grasping the opportunity to revitalise the club. Since then, Maddison was announced as vice-captain and took the league by storm in the opening months until his unfortunate injury against Chelsea. Spurs fans will hope that in a few years, they will look back at this photo, knowing how influential this transfer was for the Postecoglou rebuild.

Some of Cornish’s best work has come from the photos in the concourse. For the fans, this is a sacred area where some of the best memories are made before, at halftime, and especially after a game. Some moments particularly stick out — after the wins against West Ham and Chelsea last year the atmosphere was electric, and the flares and fans’ reactions after the game perfectly personified this. Similarly, Manchester United in the summer sun created some iconic photos with fans wearing bucket hats and boonies, and even carrying inflatable kangaroos and crocodiles.

For Cornish, who works for a hospitality group, photography is not currently his full-time work. However, he would ultimately like to work in photography as that’s “the goal”. “All the work that I’ve done with the Premier League, and obviously the stuff that I do at Tottenham, I just get so much enjoyment out of it. That’s basically the goal. I think, keep plugging away at that and see what happens.”

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