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For the love of the game

This summer Nabila Abuljadayel, AMD’16, had the opportunity to meld two of her life’s greatest passions: photography and Spanish soccer juggernaut Real Madrid.

And it’s an experience she will truly never forget. “It was a dream come true,” Abuljadayel said. “It really showed me anything is possible. A few weeks before I saw press photographers on the pitch at the World Cup, and then I was doing the same thing.”

When Abuljadayel found out Real Madrid would be participating in the Guinness International Champions Cup—a friendly soccer competition featuring several European club teams and held in the several U.S. cities this summer from July 24 to Aug. 4—she pledged she would see the team play and capture the action with her camera.

She got press credentials as a photographer for The Huntington News, Northeastern’s student-run paper, and with that came a field-level view of Real Madrid’s match against Manchester United at the University of Michigan’s football stadium on Aug. 2. The attendance, 109,318 strong, was the highest for any soccer game ever played in America.


“I couldn’t even take photos because I wanted to watch the game and everything that was going on around me,” said Abuljadayel, who has been a staunch supporter of Real Madrid ever since she saw starting goalie Iker Casillas play for his native Spain in the 2002 World Cup.

The Saudi Arabia native’s love of photography in general, and sports photography in particular, has also developed during her time at Northeastern, where she is pursuing a degree in digital arts with a concentration in animation in the College of Arts, Media and Design. Growing up, Abuljadayel said she always had a camera with her, but never thought of taking up photography as a profession until she took a class taught by associate academic specialist Andrea Raynor.

“She is very nice and really gets involved in your work,” Abuljadayel said. “And she always finds the good in a bad photo. If I do 10 things wrong with a photo, she’ll point out the one thing I did well.”

Sports, Abuljadayel said, is her favorite subject to shoot because of the action and the on-field struggles that invariably unfold between the competitors. While she enjoys photographing still life such as scenery and landscape, Abuljadayel said capturing the dynamic moments and the historical context of sports really resonates with those who see her photos.

“Sports can be difficult to shoot,” Abuljadayel noted. “But the subject is very interesting. It talks to you. I’m doing what I love.”

And because she does not have the same equipment as traditional sports photographers, she has to train her eye to find other kinds of shots.

“I just love the art of [soccer],” Abuljadayel said. “I look for the images that most sports photographers really wouldn’t look for. I always try to see what I can do differently with my equipment.”

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