LightBox on Tumblr is a window into the lens of LightBox, a blog by TIME’s photo department that explores how photography, video and the culture of images define today’s world.

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Joachim Ladefoged had only eight minutes to photograph one of the world’s greatest soccer players, Lionel Messi, for the cover of TIME International. “Just enough time to use three different backgrounds,” Ladefoged said.

A huge Messi fan himself, Ladefoged did something he’s never done before after the shoot.“I have to admit that for the first time in my 20-year career as a photographer, I asked for an autograph,” he said. “I have two sons at home and bought a Messi Barcelona shirt, so coming home without a signed shirt from their biggest hero was out of the question.”

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