Kildunne swaps the rugby scrum for the snappers scrum

Ellie Kildunne likes to do things differently, whether that be finding new ways to score tries or new angles to photograph them from. 

With her Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby side Harlequins not in action on the day of the PWR Final, Kildunne took on a new role as a photographer. 

It is a passion that is rapidly developing into an obsession for the soon-to-be Olympian. 

“I didn't get much of the actual gameplay, which is fine because a lot of the photographers got that,” she explained. 

“I focused very much on the atmosphere and the fans, the special moments between two players at the end of the game and trying to get more emotion rather than the sports photography side of things. 

“I'm super creative and I know what we do is really cool. We have pretty cool lives and get to travel, have our best friends there and there's a lot more to the game than just the game on the Saturday.  

“It helps me switch off and it's become quite a vital tool to my life and my game.” 

The England full-back does not usually get involved in a scrum and admits she did not have to in Sandy Park as she chose a different position than the rest of the photographers at the final. 

She was still able to learn from the professionals on the sidelines in Exeter. 

Kildunne added: “A lot of the photographers stay in one place, and I was walking around the pitch so I could get different pictures.  

“There was no argy bargy paparazzi-style stuff going on and to be fair, a lot of the other guys were often giving me tips and chatting to me about the game as well. 

“One of the tips that was really handy was sitting down at eye level because you get to be at the same level as the player, so the depth becomes quite nice in the picture.   

“Something that's different from the photography I normally do is that I normally just take one photo, whereas I had to do a burst of photos so that you got all the action and the movement of the player, but I picked it up really quickly.” 

What started out as a way to stay in touch with her teammates whilst nursing an injury has blossomed into a dedicated platform, 5022 Studios, to document women’s rugby, including her Harlequins teammates. 

“It's a creative platform or a creative space where the game can almost have the chance to be marketed in a different way and can reach out to different groups of people,” she explained. 

“At the moment, it is through photography, but it could be through video, it could be through fashion and just jumping into different categories of people, to grow the game of women's rugby as much as I can do. 

“I don't really think the Quins girls knew what it was until they did it, but they've all said they had such a good time and they really enjoyed themselves and they want to do more of that stuff.  

“I guess that is the beautiful thing is that it was outside their comfort zone and the fact they did it and really enjoyed it, it almost lit a spark to want to do more things like that.  

“They got to put their personality across, have a little bit of storytelling and that's the whole thing that I find really important.” 

Kildunne has a new story to tell this summer having been selected to compete in women’s rugby sevens for Team GB at the Olympics this summer. 

It marks a switch back to sevens after three years away for the Keighley native as she fulfils a dream. 

With her camera by her side, it will be a summer she’ll never forget. 

She said: “It is just incredible, I find myself still having to pinch myself to try and I believe that it's happening.  

“I'm a firm believer that I don't want to reflect on it too much because we're so busy with going in and out of camp and keeping our feet firmly on the ground. 

“I'll probably just take my normal camera that I take everywhere with me to Paris, my pocket camera. 

“I don't ever miss the moment by trying to work out how the camera works or fiddling around with things.  

“It's always about being part of the moment.”