As the Copa America Centenario has reached its final and painful match (Chile won in penalty kicks against Argentina once again), stars like Clint Dempsey, Lionel Messi and James Rodriguez continue to draw the attention of millions of fans, not only the ones attending the games but also the ones who follow them via social media and other channels. A photographer who has reached close to a million followers on Instagram, Jason Peterson has had exclusive access to photographing the shortcomings of the games happening at Soldier Field in Chicago, with beautiful monochrome images from Team USA, Argentina and more. While very busy traveling and hustling with his Leica SL and Q on his neck during every game, he had time to share with us epic shots of the Copa, and his insights on the performance of the Leica SL.

How did you first become interested in Leica?

I always loved Leica. The brand and the quality of images that have come from the camera’s. When I got serious about digital photography I really felt no one bridged the gap between the best digital tech with the craft of classic photo than Leica products.

Please describe the creative approach for this project – who commissioned you to follow the Team USA group stage during the Copa America?

I am working with USA Soccer, who gave me access to shoot all of the COPA America Centenario games at Soldier Field in Chicago.

What did you want to show with your images? The look and feel of the outcome is very lively and almost visceral, giving the sense of closeness to the players. 

You know whenever I shoot sport events I really try to bring a unique point of view to what I’m capturing. Being surrounded by “professional” sport photographers who shoot this kind of stuff is always fun for me. I like to see what they are doing and usually do the opposite. I’m bringing my same POV I bring to all of my work, which is trying to capture the small emotional images we usually miss. I want to show what it feels like to be on the pitch.

You shot the images with the Leica SL, and have shot previously with the Leica M Monochrom. How do you compare the performance of these two cameras in terms of black and white photography?

Nothing compares to the range of the Monochrom, but when it comes to having the ability to capture the speed sports the Leica SL is amazing. I just received the 90-280mm lens before the Copa America Centenario and man, this lens is amazing. I shoot raw but use my custom mono settings on the SL, so I can really see where I’ll end up.

When shooting during the games, you need a very fast lens to capture every frame of the moment, what did you use and why?

I used the 90-280mm for most of the game. I shot some images before the game using the T 11-22m on the SL, I love the ultra wide. And the loss of the full frame for what I’m using the images for is not a big deal.  I also have the Q around my neck at all times to get any action that was happening right on me.

Your work is focused on black and white imagery, along with the genre you describe as “follow me into the dark”. Can you please share your perspective on this and the meaning of this?

I love the little moments that usually go unnoticed. The split second emotions that happen in the shadows. I shoot all black and white because I find it to be so much more pure and focused than color. It also removed time from the image which makes the photo timeless.

You’ve amassed close to a million followers on social media. What’s the formula if any to drawing this type of attention?

People have a hard time remembering social media is social. To me social media is like a party. Show up with amazing work and talk to people at the party about it. Engage with everyone and constantly be trying to improve.

Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to mention, or maybe in terms of other projects you’re working on?

I have a few things coming up, it looks like I am shooting the summer olympics for Brazil. Also I’ll be shooting Lollapalooza in Chicago for Highsnobity. 

Thank you Jason!

About Jason Peterson:

Jason Peterson is a master of black and white street photography. Drawing inspiration from urban landscape and the human condition within it, Jason manages to capture moments that are sharp in clarity and alluring in contrast. Negative space is used effortlessly and the faceless subjects flow perfectly in each image.

Influenced by iconic photographers of the past, Jason creates smooth and powerful compositions that breed a dark and mysterious fantasy. For more than 20 years, Jason has been igniting cultural conversations across all media, including digital, television, print, content and brand identity. Jason is responsible for creating and overseeing integrated campaigns for Reebok, NBA, Coke USA/Japan, Heineken, Ford, GM, McDonald’s, StateFarm and many more. He is currently Chief Creative Officer of Havas Worldwide.

Beyond mainstream brand building, Jason has been tapped by some of the world’s leading brands (e.g. Dom Perignon, NHL, Bloomingdales and Volvo) to collaborate on social campaigns based on his signature black and white photos and nearly a million Instagram followers (@jasonmpeterson).

To know more about Jason Peterson’s work, please follow him on Instagram.