How This Small-Town Photographer Became the Most In-Demand Sports Photographer in 3 Years

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With technological advancements and evolving trends in the digital realm, sports photography has undergone a sea of changes. From creating just an image, it has combined art with expression to narrate unique stories. Madeleine Penfold, a sought-after photographer in the sports industry, is storming this space with her inherent passion for the lens and unique ability to understand the human psyche. Hailing from North Manchester, Madeleine is making her mark as a visionary photographer while introducing a fresh perspective. Here’s her story.

From a young age, Madeleine was passionate about capturing moments through the lens. At 11, her passion found expression when she received an old disposable camera and her father’s compact camera. As she grew up, her interests evolved as she became drawn to Manchester’s club culture. However, Madeleine continued to capture the vibrancy of these parties and Manchester’s nightlife in a documentary style.

Following her mother’s advice, Madeleine pursued business studies—a more practical career path, her mother thought. After finishing her studies, Madeleine struggled to find her place in the corporate world and soon realized it was not meant for her. Instead, she went on to pursue her dreams as a photographer in the US to create imagery of diverse landscapes that are more inclusive.

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Within three months of her stay in the US, Madeleine witnessed the media’s influence on people’s self-perception and how it impacts popular culture. Intending to transform this landscape, she delved deeper into the world of photography and film. Soon she found herself mentoring others on photography at a summer camp. Her experiences further fuelled her desire to present more inclusive imagery so others could embrace their true selves.

Madeleine’s first notable achievement was launching her own studio that found her recognition as a young, trailblazing entrepreneur in Manchester’s creative scene. With this new-found success, Madeleine’s ambitions grew, and she started networking with influential people. Realizing she could not limit her talent to a studio, Madeleine left her studio business and started freelancing.

This new field opened the door to more opportunities for Madeleine. She had the chance to photograph the football icon Roberto Firmino just after he signed with Liverpool Football Club. This marked the beginning of her remarkable journey in sports photography. She has photographed celebrated athletes like Ronaldo, Lucy Bronze, Neymar, Sadio Mane, and many more. Besides their physical appearance, her photographs also captured the personalities of these sports stars. This brought her more recognition as the only photographer in the industry who could capture the athletes as their true selves.

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Madeleine’s approach to photography is unique and goes beyond the lens. As a qualified yoga and mindfulness teacher, she has a compassionate approach that helps her deliver the best, even under pressure. She focuses on creating a comfortable atmosphere on set where athletes can express themselves, which she then captures.

Besides being an accomplished sports photographer, Madeleine also gives back. She is associated with local and global charities, where she leverages her skills to help others. This initiative keeps her grounded.

Going forward, Madeleine has more ambitious and purposeful goals to accomplish. She wants to be the go-to photographer not just in the sports industry but also in the culture and documentary scene at an international level. She wants her photographs to inspire people, capturing the real essence of their personalities and welcoming more inclusivity in the world of photography.

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