The story behind the Landon Donovan image

MLSsoccer.com speaks with the photographer who recorded history

Landon Donovan celebrates.

Photo Credit: 
Kevork Djansezian/Getty

In honor of MLSsoccer.com's Moment of the Year, new media editor Nick Fichau spoke with Getty photographer Kevork Djansezian, who snapped the image above and those below of Landon Donovan's goal against Algeria, all of which became some of the most iconic images in US Soccer history.  

Djansezian - who is based in Los Angeles and has snapped photos ranging from former President Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Kanye West to Kobe Bryant and Mike Tyson - reflected on his work and what it was like to be a soccer fan in South Africa that day. Here are some of the excerpts of the conversation.


 

It’s definitely one of the biggest moments of my professional photographic career. It was one of the biggest moments that I’ve recorded, personally or professionally. I’ve done four World Cups, the Winter Olympics and the Summer Olympics. But soccer is different for me, because I’m a soccer fan, and there’s a whole set of different of emotions I get when somebody scores a goal. Especially when someone scores a game-winning goal that puts the team into the next round in a situation like that.

 


 

There were a few of us covering the team: from AFP (Agence France-Presse), there was a photographer from New York, the Associated Press had a photographer and Reuters had one. So four of us followed the team every day, and we tracked them. We became very close the team in that way, so to have a moment like that, it was amazing.

 

 


 

Usually what happens when a guy scores, sometimes they go away from you. They run away somewhere else and celebrate, and you’re kind of left with, ‘oh, I wish he had turned this way, or come this way. I wish I had recorded that moment.’ But the way it happened, he scored and the way his body was moving when he scored, he naturally turned to the left and came towards us. It was huge.

 

 


 

 

I could just not get my finger on the shutter button fast enough. I just kept shooting and shooting and shooting, as if I’d scored the goal myself. I couldn’t believe it. I was living in that moment, and it was a very fulfilling moment.

 

 

 


 

I tried to be impartial. But that was tough. And like any other fan, I was just waiting for this moment to happen. And when it happened, it was like a shock, and not in a bad way. It was incredible, a very, very emotional moment for everyone. Complete happiness. It was a very happy moment for me and obviously an incredible one for Donovan; I think the pictures speak for themselves.

Bookmark and Share