Creative Soccer Culture

Q&A With LAFC Photographer Imad Bolotok

A member of the team responsible for helping to shape the club's brand, Imad Bolotok is a photographer and designer at LAFC. In getting a glimpse into the rise through the inaugural season he has captured, we spoke to him about how life is lived as Los Angeles Football Club.

Can you describe your feelings the night before LAFC played their first game? Did it feel like an enormous occasion?

"A lot of reflecting back on previous years. Having been a part of the Club for almost two years before we kicked off, I can tell you that there were a lot of nerves. I remember reflecting the night before in my hotel about all the work that was put into the Club to get it to that point, and all the long hours away from friends and family to help build something I believed in. I just remember thinking that even if we got smashed 6-0 every game of the season, that all the energy and time I put into it with so many others would have been worth it."
You've been involved since the early days of the club, is it surreal to see it go from idea through to fully functioning club with a global appeal?

"Early on everyone who worked for the Club knew it was something special, something the league hadn’t seen…maybe ever. We were seeing huge numbers for our rally’s and events, even though we didn’t have a coach or a player to get behind. We just had our crest and our vision to bring soccer to LA. When it finally hit, it seemed to take everyone by surprise except everyone who had worked hard to make it happen."

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What do you think makes LAFC such a different proposition?

"I always tell people we do our best to be a reflection of our city, between our imagery on our @LAFC Instagram account, to the north end of our stadium – we try to be a mirror of what our city is. We have all these great pieces that make up our first team – but we’re much more than the 90 minutes we play on a weekly basis. We have engaged supporters, an Academy system which is winning trophies, and we’ve tapped into our local creative community – all of which live in our ecosystem of  LAFC. It’s not about a player, it’s about the city."
For people outside LA and outside the states even, what would you describe an LAFC match day like?

"High energy. Our supporters don’t stop, and neither does the Club. If you like beer showers then you’re in the right place."
The club have embraced a visually striking identity, what's it been like to be involved in that?

"As a creative it’s been a dream situation. We’ve been fortunate to have leadership who understood the opportunity to separate ourselves from everyone, and supported us all the way. I couldn’t imagine doing our Day of the Dead event with any other organization, but for us it fits with who we are."

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Would you see LAFC as a progressive and creative club first and foremost?

"I think so, and that stems from ownership and who we’ve hired in the beginning to help build this. A lot of people in the organization who were making critical creative decisions didn’t come from sports, and I think that’s helped separate us from the rest of the MLS. We’ve got a lot of people with non-sports backgrounds who think differently and how to position the Club differently to help put LAFC into the fabric of what Los Angeles is."
Just how important are the fans to the club, they feel like the heart of it all?

"They’re the core of what we do. Our supporters will come out to Academy matches to support them at 8am on a Saturday if we told them how important it was to the kids. They welcomed our Academy back at the airport after they had won an international tournament in Mexico. They saw our vision of inclusivity and community and were all in from day one. LAFC wouldn’t be what it is without their passion and devotion to this."

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What are your personal aspirations for LAFC? How big would you like to see the brand of the club grow?

"For us I know we’re not concerned with domestic aspirations, but global. We’ve modeled our stadium after European clubs, and took notes from Dortmund on how they grew their Yellow Wall and made it into the best supporter atmosphere in the world. Everything we do we think on a global scale, and hopefully one day LAFC will be just as enticing of a jersey to buy as the next PSG or Barça jersey, as well as a must-see for someone in love with football around the world."
What have been the greatest surprises of the inaugural season?

"I’d be lying if I thought we’d be in contention for the top spot in the West this late in our inaugural season, but our team has performed really well on the pitch and it’s been exciting for everyone involved."

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Photography and words by Imad Bolotok. You can see more about LAFC here.


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