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(Sean Pollock/Waking The Red)

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Photo Essay: Capturing Canada’s historic win over Panama at BMO Field

Waking The Red photographer Sean Pollock takes you behind the scenes and gives readers a view through his lens of a special day at BMO Field.

What a feeling it was to be back amongst a crowd of 25,000 fans for the (most?) historic game in Canadian Men’s National Team recent history. It’s been 585 days since BMO Field last allowed a full capacity crowd and those fans received every bit of entertainment the boys could provide.

Photographing soccer is a privilege I don’t take lightly, getting a chance to be that close to the action for some of the biggest moments our country has ever witnessed and Wednesday night proved how fortunate I am to be amongst the sport in a special way.

My name is Sean and I’m the lead photographer @ Waking The Red. Through this essay, I’ll be taking you through what a photographer sees while photographing a game of footy.

BMO is surrounded by stands on three of its four sides, while I’m accustomed to TFC almost always attacking towards the north first, Canada attacked to the south first which always creates a slightly less inspiring background given the darkness towards the Gardiner.

I’m looking for moments that help contribute to the story of the night while picking out faces and expressions. Getting set up shots like the one of Tajon above can help round out a set of images.

Davies was constantly hounded by 3-4 Panama players all night, ensuring an image was created to show that was crucial for me.

Creating depth by adding in a foreground subject like this Panama defender works great and definitely helps support that narrative that they were parking the bus early after their opening goal. David pressed hard all first half and can be seen all the way on the left side of the pitch in this shot which led to him being fouled by an audacious rising header.

The Tajon header in the first half was on the opposite side of the net from me, so I ran towards the celebration and managed to get a few moments of the guys coming together.

The second half started 1-1 and now Canada was attacking to the north, which is my preferred direction for shooting as the south end perfectly surrounds almost every play that happens in front of you.

With a thoughtfully planned out sea of red, coupled with flags, the south end was a perfect backdrop for the events that unfolded in the second half.

65th minute, Canada hoofed the ball up the field and Panama just seemed to take their time with it. All of us picked up on Davies as he raced down the wing, I could see all the photographers start to raise their cameras. As soon as he picked up the ball, my focus was locked, tracking him all the way into the 18 yard box, faking, shooting and celebrating.

Tajon’s second header caught me a bit off guard, Laryea picked up the ball quickly and fired a cross right over the box and Tajon picked up perfectly.

As a sports photographer and fan, you dream of capturing those goals, the celebrations and the comradery shown between teammates as they realize what they’ve just achieved. To photograph these moments once in a game is special; two times, good luck? But 3 times, fate was on my side last night and I’m so thankful I picked the the left side of the pitch.

Last moments of the night came with Osorio grabbing the drum while the team surrounded Davies as they celebrated with the fans. I ran down the east side of the pitch to get there on time and secure my spot front and centre, only taking a couple bumps from other lens and elbows in the process.

I’m still in awe of what I witnessed and what I was fortunately able to photograph, I know these games don’t come around often and I’ll be cherishing these images for years to come.

For those interested, I shoot with a Canon 1dx mk2 with 70-200mm, 300mm and 35mm lenses.

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