Photographer and Copenhagen native and fan, Sofie Hvenegaard reminisces and smiles as she thinks back to that evening, “It was certainly the greatest result in my lifetime. It has given us an incredible chance to qualify for the next round of the Champions League, which is something we could never have imagined when the draw was made.”
Sofie’s love of football started young and growing up in the suburbs of Copenhagen, she had no choice in who she was going to support. Although she does also have a place in her heart for Chelsea. “My introduction to football came at a young age,” she explains. “Some of my oldest childhood memories are of me and my dad playing football in the garden. I always remember that he would call me ‘R9’ every time he let me put a goal past him.”
Sofie was an only child, and it is something that she describes as a unique but also very rewarding experience. Being the only child meant she was able to spend a lot of time with her parents and formed a close and unbreakable bond with them.
It was also at a young age that her interest in photography started. “I’m certain my love for art and photography comes from my family too,” she tells us. “My granddad on my mum’s side was a painter, and my granddad on my dad’s side has always loved photography and has endless photo books which he has always let me flick through as many times as I wanted. He was the one who got me into film photography when he gave me one of his old film cameras he had lying around.”
With F.C. Copenhagen flying the flag for Denmark in Europe and Chelsea’s fortunes seemingly on the up, Sofie was positively glowing when we caught up with her as she told us more about her love of football, photography, and what makes Copenhagen such a beautiful city.
I had no choice really but to support FC Copenhagen
Growing up only 20 minutes from Copenhagen meant I had no choice really but to support FC Copenhagen, as everyone at my school did. They were the first team I supported, the first kit I ever got, and the first game I ever went to.
Chelsea came about a bit later. In my early teenage years, I fell even more in love with the sport and even though I loved Danish football, I could tell there was a big difference in the level of play in other countries’ leagues.
I would catch glimpses of top-level football whenever I was watching international tournaments, but I wanted that all the time and I started watching some Premier League games. I fell in love with Ancelotti’s attacking Chelsea and have been a fan ever since.
I have been fortunate enough to go to a few Chelsea games now, both home games at Stamford Bridge and a few away games too. Living in Denmark means I only get to attend Chelsea’s games occasionally, so Parken Stadium is the ground I find myself in the most. It doubles both as Copenhagen’s and the Denmark national team’s stadium which means I’ve got plenty of excuses to watch football there.
It’s undoubtedly a really cool venue full of atmosphere, especially on big game days where the whole of Sektion 12 turns up for Copenhagen and delivers tifos, loud chanting and a great number of pyros.
Some of my favourite football memories have been made there, including lots of Copenhagen derbies, cup finals, Champions League games plus countless Denmark matches.
I have a thing for German football
Other than Stamford Bridge, which is definitely my favourite ground to visit for obvious reasons, I have been fortunate enough to visit some good stadiums in recent times. Some big ones include last year’s FA Cup Final at Wembley and more recently a Copenhagen Champions League away match at Old Trafford. Both games ended in heartbreak for me, but they were such big occasions with amazing atmospheres which made them amazing experiences overall.
I have a thing for German football and have been at some incredible Berlin derbies at the Olympiastadion, which is a great stadium too and always beautiful to photograph. I would love to visit more German grounds like Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion and Union Berlin’s Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Italian and French football is something I’m hoping to experience in the near future too.
Although I love shooting the actual game on the pitch, football to me is so much more than that
I’ve never had any training or any photography lessons, so I am entirely self-taught through books, YouTube videos and lots of practice. For football games, I usually bring my Olympus Mju-I point-and-shoot camera as it’s the perfect size and fits in any bag or pocket.
Whenever I’m allowed to bring bigger equipment to a game, I take my Contax G1 with me. It allows me to shoot manually choose my settings and gives me more control over the shots, which I like.
I have found a few cameras at flea markets and charity shops which I love experimenting with too, but the Olympus and the Contax are the cameras I’m most comfortable with, so I stick with those the most.
Most of my photography is centred around football, and I always want to try and capture the atmosphere around a team or game. My style of photography is constantly evolving, and over the years I’ve grown a lot in my confidence with regards to shooting pictures at football games.
Although I love shooting the actual game happening on the pitch, football to me is so much more than that, and I want to capture interesting things and people in and around the ground too.
I’m a massive perfectionist, and I think a lot about how to compose my pictures before taking them. I love clean and straight lines and will spend ages lining up the shot before taking it.
I’ve felt the need to take revenge on the years that we lost due to covid
It’s true that I love travelling and ever since the pandemic I’ve felt the need to take revenge on the years that we lost due to covid. I’ve travelled a lot around Europe since then, and I often plan my travels after football games. I’ve gone multiple times to Berlin and London over the years, and both places almost feel like a second home to me now.
Italy is probably one of my favourite places to visit. I recently went on a trip to Milan and Venice, and I am already starting to plan my next trip over there. I still think the Faroe Islands is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, and I would love to go back up there to shoot some football grounds and matches.
Danish football culture is something everyone should experience
I think Danish football culture is something everyone should experience, and I’m always going to recommend a visit to Parken Stadium. If a trip there isn’t possible, there are loads of other smaller grounds around Copenhagen which are definitely worth a visit too.
I would avoid the more touristy areas of Copenhagen as they’re always overcrowded, underwhelming and everything around there is overpriced. I would instead visit some of the lesser-known but really cool neighbourhoods around the city. Nørrebro is a vibrant and diverse part of the city where different cultures and generations coexist to create an interesting and dynamic place to visit. Go to Superkilen for a globally inspired artistic outside area, Blågårdsgade which is one of my favourite streets for cool places to eat and drink, or a walk around the Copenhagen lakes.
Another of my favourite parts of town is Vesterbro, which is a mix of old working-class and modern trendy Copenhagen. Here you’ll find Kødbyen, the old Meatpacking District, which is an old industrial area that has been transformed into a cool area with lots of restaurants, cafés, bars and night clubs. Vesterbro also has Enghave Plads, which is a square full of local businesses including my favourite record shop in Copenhagen, BEAT Café. Other than that Copenhagen is full of perfect places for going on walks. There are green areas and parks such as Frederiksberg Have or Kongens Have, and harbours andcanals such as Nyhavn or Islands Brygge.
I love expressing myself through other forms of art
While football is a big part of my life, it has always been important to me to have and embrace other interests and hobbies away from the sport. I have always been a creative person and while I do always carry a camera around with me, I love expressing myself through other forms of art too.
Since I was little, I have always had the need to draw and paint and visualise ideas in my head on paper, and that is something I still do to relax. If I’m not making art, I enjoy reading different kinds of literature to explore new worlds and develop my imagination.
I have also always loved music and have started collecting records. I always try and visit record shops and book shops when I travel, and every item I take home with me holds special memories and emotions that I’ve experienced while travelling.
Thank you very much to Sofie Hvenegaard for her time.
All images by Sofie Hvenegaard.