London-based McInnes has photographed an eclectic range of subjects across his career, and is delighted to now be turning his lens to another area of interest: the Guinness Men’s Six Nations.
His first assignment in the Eternal City started with a pleasant juxtaposition of cultures. “On the night before the game, I wanted a different focus so I looked for good places to hang out and watch the France v Ireland match,” says McInnes. “I balanced the evening with photographing an Irish pub with a more quintessential Italian establishment that was also showing the game.
“In the pub you had a lot of Irish and British fans, and there was a good atmosphere, as you’d expect. And then you had the very European, continental experience of the locals who’d booked a little table, glass of wine and nice food, while enjoying the game.”
The sheer amount of travelling England fans surprised him, he admits. “My goodness, there were England fans everywhere. I’ve never associated that level of travelling support with other sports I’ve photographed, such as football. I walked down along the river before the match and the atmosphere grows and grows as the crowds increase, and there they all are: Italy and England fans mixing with each other and enjoying each other’s company.”
When it came to the action on the field, McInnes was able to see up close how demanding Test rugby is. “Everybody knows that rugby is a physical sport, but what I really wanted to capture was the true face of it all: the exhaustion, the sweat, the blood. Everything that goes with spending 80 minutes tackling and running up and down the pitch. That heavy duty stuff.
“I was lucky to be in the tunnel before the game. As someone who used to play sport, I know well the nerves and jitters, trying to figure out what your opponent is about, so I was looking for those moments between the players.”
Documenting the face of a Championship game day extended to the fans after the match too, of course. “There’s a joy that comes with that. Some people are in a slightly more wobbly emotional state, shall we say!”
Theo McInnes will be photographing at games throughout the campaign, and we’ll be showcasing his work across all our digital channels.