Work / Publication

Then There Was Us’ look-back at the World Cup is fond, celebratory and democratic

The World Cup seems like a lifetime ago now. As we continue to crank up the central heating here in the It’s Nice That studio, we cling onto memories of that blisteringly hot month where England nearly made it. Luckily, we don’t have to strain too hard as a new publication brings together a selection of images chronicling the trials and tribulations of the world’s most anticipated tournament.

“The World Cup represents the largest and arguably the most important football event in the UK,” Jonathan Tomlinson and James Wrigley, directors of _Then There Was Us – a free to submit to, free to use, platform showcasing the best talent in documentary and journalistic photography – tell It’s Nice That. In their recent publication, World Cup 2018 the duo bring together 35 photographers to record, document and showcase the tournament and what it means to so many.

The publication tells the story of the World Cup in a chronology of photographs right up until the final in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia. It documents the intensity and intimacy of the game through images of pubs and clubs filled to the brim with nervous onlookers. It ventures onto the streets and into homes of Britain and follows fans on their journeys across Europe right up to the sidelines of the big games. In the run-up to the competition, Jonathan and James put out a call for submissions: “we had an amazing response from all over the UK, Europe and from the big games in Russia, such as David Shaw’s images right from the crowds to the airport,” they recall.


Josh Gibbons: World Cup 2018

In the end, 30 of the 35 included contributors came from this call-out, a fact which sees the publication documenting a democratic and diverse experience. “Some work focuses on the mundane aspects, those little details like the array of flags in the streets or pub signs like Chloe Juno’s image,” James explains, “others photographers focused on the landscape of Britain like Spencer Murphy or stunning portraits like Joshua Gibbons’ images of people in their face paint and kits.” Whereas commissioning can help establish a tone of voice, this open approach to contributions means World Cup 2018 echoes a plethora of voices.

As well as presenting the images as a timeline, Jonathan and James took the decision to mirror the design of catalogues, with images numbered and neatly framed by white space on each page. “The publication is, in many ways, a typology on the World Cup and the design of the publication needed to reflect this sense of archive,” they add.

When asked what it is they hope the publication says about football, the duo responds: “This publication begins to showcase British culture during the World Cup, where we watch the games and who we watch them with; but it also documents that this sport brings people together in the same way from all over. Our hope is that this publication simply showcases a record of the people, places and a sense of community surrounding this event, an honest representation from 35 photographers.” Whatever the publication may say about Britain’s relationship to the beautiful game, at the very least it is a fond and celebratory look-back at the month of madness that was the World Cup.


Then There Was Us: World Cup 2018


Then There Was Us: World Cup 2018


Then There Was Us: World Cup 2018


Jack Fleming: World Cup 2018


Jack Fleming: World Cup 2018


Spencer Murphy: World Cup 2018


David Shaw: World Cup 2018


David Shaw: World Cup 2018


David Shaw: World Cup 2018


David Shaw: World Cup 2018