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Yury Cortez never stopped shooting and got to capture an extreme close up of the joy of Croatian players. PHOTO: EFE

The Salvadorian photographer who was trapped by Croatia's euphoria

Yuri Cortez, head of photographers of the France Press desk in Mexico, was smashed at the bottom of the crowd of jubilant Croatian players, who had just made…

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A photographer won't ever leave their camera behind. That’s a motto for photojournalists.

At minute 109 of the Russia 2018 World Cup semifinals, Mario Mandzukic scored the goal that gave Croatia the win by defeating England. Euphoria took over, obviously — Croatia had made it to the finals. The whole squad, even the technical staff, ran towards Manduzik, who was at the corner of the field. They trespassed the area where accredited photographers were working, and formed a mountain of people frantically celebrating, one on top of the other. Yuri Cortez, a Salvadorian and the head of photographers of the France Press desk in Mexico, was smashed at the bottom, holding his camera tight, of course.

Cortez had just changed the lens to a wide-angle as soon as Mandzukic scored the goal and saw all the players coming. Suddenly he felt the avalanche shaking his chair and knocking him down.

In the video, one can see a fluorescent green photographer’s vest crushed by the ecstatic crowd — the vest of Cortez. He kept shooting, still lying on the grass, his head slightly up, with only one hand while the other one was grasping the rest of the equipment against his lap. Cortez was smiling the whole time. 

The crowd started dissolving. Ivan Rakitik helped Cortez get up. Domagoj Vida kissed him in the cheek and Mario Manduzik gave him a handshake.

“I felt my chair falling, but I had already changed the lens to a wide-angle, so I kept taking the pictures. I mean, I took the pictures of them while they were on top of me. At the beginning, they didn’t realize who I was, or that they could’ve hurt me, but they soon asked me if I was okay and everything,” Cortez said in a later interview.

“The ones who arrived later didn’t know I was at the bottom,” he said during another chat with journalists. He was still smiling.

“Does something hurt?” a reporter asked. “I don’t really know,” Cortez replied. “My adrenaline is very high right now.”

So Cortez captured an extreme close up of the player's euphoria, with a unique look, the one that is only possible by having it all on top.
 

 

Cortez, 53, has worked for France Press for 27 years. He knows about adrenaline for sure because he is ultra-experienced in combat. The civil war back at his homeland, El Salvador, developed when he was crossing from being a teenager to the university years, between the 1980s and '90s. This motivated Cortez to pursue a journalism career, as he told Reversos. As censorship dominated the country, foreign media were the only window to report the facts and let people know what was happening, according to the article. Very soon, Cortez started working for international news agencies until he landed at AFP in 1991. He covered the conflictive ambience in Peru, following the internal coup of Alberto Fujimori in 1992, and he also worked in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cortez arrived in Mexico more than six years ago, where he captured the rearrest of El Chapo and the last living years of Gabriel García Márquez, who was residing in Mexico City.

Russia 2018 is the fourth world cup he has covered. 

And he never stopped shooting.

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