PROFILE

Łukasz Skwiot

An American football player poses mid-run, clutching a ball in front of him with one arm and leg outstretched behind, on a black background.

Canon Ambassador Łukasz Skwiot took this image as part of a marketing shoot for a Poland-based American football team. "I was given a free hand as to the visual form," he says. "I chose the Canon EOS 5DS because it offers a powerful photo resolution and its sharpness and detail level creates ideal commercial material." Taken with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM) at 70mm, 1/125 sec, f/9 and ISO200. © Łukasz Skwiot

Canon Ambassador Łukasz Skwiot specialises in photographing football and American football throughout Europe, as well as covering other sports such as handball and athletics. In addition to shooting action for editorial outlets, the Polish photographer also creates studio portraits of prominent football players for commercial clients.

"I'm fascinated by the ability to capture fractions of a second in a photo that are impossible to see with the naked eye," says Łukasz, who's been a professional photographer since 2015. "I focus on dynamic, tight frames and I always try to convey as much action and emotion as possible in my pictures."
Born in Wałbrzych, Poland, Łukasz's father took him to speedway races as a child and he got started in photography by taking pictures of car rallies. As one of Poland's most famous rallies takes place in his home town, Łukasz was able to photograph top national competitors from a young age. He then built up his portfolio with images of other sports including basketball, volleyball and handball, which led to him starting to shoot for weekly sports magazine Piłka Nożna in 2010.

Łukasz is a self-taught photographer and his first Canon camera was a Canon EOS 50D. "I learned by taking photos and finding out how to correct mistakes," he says. "Then, when I started working with my first agency, the photographers there helped me a lot – I had someone to learn from."
Canon Ambassador Łukasz Skwiot with his Canon camera and lens.

Location: Wrocław, Poland
Specialist areas: Sports
Favourite kit:
Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM
A football player in a yellow top and black shorts prepares to take a corner during an international match.

An image from an international football match between Belgium and Tunisia in 2018. "When shooting against bright sunlight, I like to play with light and shadow, which adds strong contrasts to the photo," says Łukasz. "Using a camera with high dynamic range helps a lot in these situations." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III) with a Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens at 24mm, 1/1000 sec, f/5.6 and ISO250. © Łukasz Skwiot

More than 10 years later and Łukasz is now established as one of Poland's top football photographers. He continues to work with Piłka Nożna as well as Polish sports agency CyfraSport, shooting major club and international tournaments, and he has worked directly with top footballers including Polish striker Robert Lewandowski.

He also shoots American football, working for the most successful Polish team, Panthers Wrocław. "American football is a spectacular and unpredictable discipline that creates many opportunities for interesting, non-standard shots and poses many challenges for the photographer," he says. "Thanks to this, I can constantly develop and improve my skills."

As well as action photography, Łukasz works in the studio for both editorial and commercial clients. This includes dynamic portraits of players for club sponsors and sometimes for the players themselves. He says, "In these sessions, I try to transfer movement to a static photo studio and use external flashes to create atmospheric and exciting frames."
The back of a runner, wearing a racing vest and bib, obscured by the Polish flag of red and white he's holding aloft.

Polish athlete Marcin Lewandowski celebrates his memorable 800m victory. "I went to a location below the level of the running track, in the middle of the arch, specially prepared for shooting the 60m sprint," says Łukasz. "Taking a photo from the bottom, with the background in the form of an interesting hall roof, the Polish flag shone in the very sharp light of the headlights and emphasised Lewandowski's features." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 70mm, 1/800 sec, f/2.8 and ISO2500. © Łukasz Skwiot

Łukasz's most memorable career moments include shooting Polish athlete Marcin Lewandowski in 2015, taking the photo from behind and showing the 800m runner holding the Polish flag aloft after winning a gold medal. This image made Łukasz the Laureate of the 2015 Polish Sports Photography Competition. "This is one of my favourite photos from my career, when I managed to implement an idea in my head," he says. "I took a lot of risk choosing this shooting spot, but in the end it paid off."

Łukasz's already-extensive track record in creating unique and dramatic sports images bodes well for his future career. "There have been a few moments which I will remember for a long time," he says, "but I hope the best is still ahead of me."
How should sports photographers prepare for shooting an event? 
"The most important thing is to have a good knowledge of the sport you're going to photograph. You have to choose a good position to shoot from, and know the main people to watch out for. This increases the chance of getting successful photos. On a practical level, I always check the battery level and whether I have enough memory cards."

What's your workflow during a match?
"I take all photos in RAW format, immediately edit them in Adobe® Photoshop®, describe what they show in Photo Mechanic and send them to three servers. I take my cards out and rip them to my computer. The photos are imported immediately into the program, and after importing the card, I put it back into the camera and continue taking photos. The workflow I've developed allows me to send ready photos to the editorial office just two minutes after taking them."

What do you look out for?
"Sport is about great emotions. I try to show as many of them as possible in the pictures – joy and sadness, victories and defeats. The images I shoot on the day must contain not only dynamic and effective photos of the action, but also portraits of players, coaches and fans."

What's the most difficult situation you've faced while shooting football?
"Once, during a Bayern Munich match, Robert Lewandowski scored a goal and I was soaked with several litres of beer by celebrating fans. Luckily, my Canon EOS-1D X and Canon EOS 5D Mark III (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) are weather-sealed and continued working, but the smell lingered for a long time!"

One thing I know

Łukasz Skwiot

"For people who want to be sports photographers, the most important thing is to keep going and take a lot of pictures. Top equipment helps a lot and opens up more possibilities, but even simpler models can make great photos. If it is difficult for you to get accreditation for important events, do not worry, there are certainly many opportunities to build a portfolio in the area you live. Look at the photos of others, think why the photographer took the photo from that particular place, what parameters he chose, what he wanted to convey. The moment is the most important thing – the emotion captured in the photo."

Facebook: @FotografiaSportowa

Instagram: @lukasz.skwiot

Website: www.skwiot.pl

Łukasz Skwiot's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Łukasz Skwiot's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and accessories.

Cameras

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

The ultimate creative toolkit, with superb low-light performance, deep learning AF and 5.5K RAW video. "I love this camera," says Łukasz. "It's very fast, allowing me to shoot at a speed of 16 frames per second through the viewfinder with full autofocus. In addition, it offers a very high ISO, and a dynamic range that allows me to photograph in all conditions. The Ethernet socket enables me to send photos direct from the camera to my editorial server. When I add its reliability and battery life, it's the perfect camera for my work."

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The successor to the camera Łukasz uses is beautifully engineered and a thoroughly accomplished all-rounder. Łukasz says: "This is a smaller and much lighter camera than the EOS-1D X, so I can always have it with me. Thanks to a very good sensor, I get great image quality. I often use it when I try to be invisible, for example when I photograph the team's preparations in the locker room before the game."

Lenses

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM

A fast-aperture super-telephoto lens that delivers a professional performance, ideal for sports, news and wildlife photography. "I mainly use this lens for shooting sports action," says Łukasz. "I love the quality of photos that are made with it – it gives amazing image sharpness and beautiful background blur."

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

The latest model of the lens Łukasz favours is a fast-aperture telephoto zoom lens that's engineered to perform in the most challenging conditions. "I keep my 70-200mm lens on my second camera, a Canon EOS-1D X, and use it when the players are closer to me. The autofocus speed is amazing and the f/2.8 aperture allows me to work in Polish stadiums, where the light sometimes isn't so good," says Łukasz.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

A short telephoto focal length, combined with a large maximum aperture and fast autofocus speed, make the EF 85mm f/1.8 USM an ideal optic for any photographer shooting portraiture. "I use the 85mm lens for studio portraits and for Polish lower league matches where the grounds are smaller," says Łukasz.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

A standard wide-angle lens beloved by reportage photographers for its natural perspective, low-light capability and extraordinary optical performance. "This lens is used for behind-the-scenes reportage pictures of players or fans, or wider shots of the stadium," says Łukasz. "The f/1.4 aperture makes it a fast lens that I can rely on in low-light situations."

Accessories

Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT

The Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT, successor to the Canon Speedlite 580EX II that Łukasz uses, is engineered for fast frame rate shooting, and performs in the most demanding situations. "I mainly use Speedlite flashguns during medal ceremonies when I'm working in difficult lighting conditions," says Łukasz. "I appreciate them for their fast work, short charging time and accurate light measurement in TTL. I often use two lamps and trigger them remotely to get a more interesting light distribution in the photo."

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