Porto, Portugal, July 7, 2014. Unknown to most, but acquainted with Portugal’s national volleyball team, Sophie Labusch was born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany 20 years ago. Daughter of volleyball, she started playing the sport at the age of 6 under her father and brother’s influence. However, her true passion is photography, which she applies very well to capture the best moments of the Portuguese players.
How was this passion for volleyball and especially for the Portuguese national team born?
Volleyball has played a significant role in my life since I was born, as my family is somehow connected to it so I grew up around the sport, spending most of my weekends at sporting facilities. My dad was a setter and my brother also plays that role in Germany’s Regionaliga, so it is quite natural for me to love volleyball. Regarding the Portuguese volleyball team, I remember that a few years ago, Joao Jose was playing for VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN and he was idolized in Germany, because he is an outstanding player. In fact, even now he is remembered there. Then other Portuguese players like Valdir Sequeira (Generali UNTERHACHING) and more recently Marcel Keller Gil (RWE Volleys BOTTROP) went to play in Germany. I think Portugal has a different style of play, different from the one I was acquainted with, which caught my attention and interest. A short time after, I met some players who were always very kind to me and today some of them are my friends.
You usually take pictures of three players, Marcel, Valdir and Alex. In your opinion, which is the most impressive player? And the easiest to photograph?
It is very hard to say, because they are all good players who have different roles. But maybe I relate best to Valdir Sequeira. He is an amazing player, very fast, very strong, with a great vertical. I do not prefer anyone in special, however, I can make better pictures of Valdir and Alex because they play in positions that I can relate to, and therefore, I can anticipate their movements in order to focus better and take quality pictures.
Do you keep count on how many pictures you have taken of Portuguese players?
No… (laughs), but certainly a lot. Usually and depending on the match, I take about 900 - 2000 pictures. Then after my selection and editing, the number descends to 70 - 200 photos per match. These are the ones I send to whoever I am working with and keep for my personal portfolio.
What do you like to capture best?
Without any doubt, volleyball. But I like to shoot some other sports as well. Last year I had the opportunity to photograph basketball in Trento, Italy and I enjoy taking pictures of extreme sports as well. For me the most important thing is to capture the emotion and the dynamics of the sport. By the way I love sports. I play volleyball, not at a high level, but I also enjoy skiing, longboard, climbing and I watch football too.
What does the FIVB World League mean to you?
It is an outstanding competition which integrates the world’s top teams and a great opportunity for the fans to see them in action in their own countries as well as the great athletes from around the globe, which is pretty exciting. Regarding the winner, it is very difficult to say as the teams are very balanced. I would have liked Germany, Portugal and Cuba to reach the finals – Cuba, because I am a fan of Leonel Marshall (laughs). But attending history and recent results I would say that Italy has a good chance to at least take the bronze medal, as it is very strong and will play at home in Florence.
The cameras also spotted you at World League matches where Portugal was involved, both away and at home. What do you think about this country and the Portuguese people?
I like Portugal very much. It is such a nice country, with lots of beaches, sun, and in this aspect very different from Germany, as it is warmer. The people are very kind and warm welcoming. They make me feel very good. Therefore, this year I am coming back for the Portugal vs. Korea matches.
Do you know any Portuguese words?
Well, I do know some, but I struggle with their pronunciation. Words like “bem”, “obrigada”, “sim”, “olá”, “bom dia”, “tudo bem”, which are fundamental for any traveler.
Is photography only a hobby or something you wish to pursue as a career? Tell us more about your future.
I do not consider it to be a hobby, but a career prospect. I always try to make good pictures to be able to work with websites, online magazines or newspapers. In the near future, I should return to Italy to study Communication Science and Culture at Bolzano. I was in this country last year trying to perfect my skills by taking photos of Alexandre Ferreira’s Diatec TRENTINO and others while working as an au pair. So, I hope to continue evolving and hopefully to work with organizations which would be interested in my work. And, I wish to continue playing volleyball as well, of course.