Other Sports Hints and Tips
Most of the other sports pages on this site have been focused on the glamorous events such as Motor Racing and Premiership Football, which unfortunately the majority of snappers out there do not have a chance to cover.
We do also have to be able to cover other sporting events, anything from Tiny Tots Tennis to International Athletics events, and as a professional press photographer you need to be able to deliver results irrespective of the type of event that you are requested to cover.
Probably one of the most difficult events I have had to cover was the Oxford Eights Rowing event, which I was covering for the Times Newspaper, photographing a rowing event is not particularly difficult, however to get something that was suitable for a broad-sheet demanded a little creative thinking. Especially as the event was not a straight race to the line, it was a “bump” event.
As the river is not wide enough in Oxford for the traditional line up and race to the finish line, the teams start off at different parts on the course, and the object is to catch the team in front, having “bumped” the team in front, both competitors stop.
This makes it difficult to work out where the individual competitions are going to end. I chose several view points during the couple of hours that I had to cover the event, and end up with some nice but very “samey” images which were not strong enough for use in the paper (it was to be used for the results listing page).
In one of the events, I positioned myself on a bridge, and working with a 400mm F2.8L on a DCS520 body and a monopod, framed a winning boat at a “jaunty” angle with the edge of the boat parallel to the edge of the frame, and photographed a ladies team as they celebrated bumping their opposition. The resulting image (shown left) was used down the entire right-hand side of the sports page.
Another notoriously difficult sport to photograph well is Ice Hockey, to date I have only covered one Ice Hockey match, and was there principally to photograph the award ceremony as in the British National League Ice Hockey Finals Play-off between the Guildford Flames and the Basingstoke Bison’s which the Guildford Flames went on to win. There are many difficulties photographing Ice Hockey, some technical and some not. One of the worst things is that you have to shoot through several inches of Perspex, much of which is scratched and dirty, other things that conspire to make life difficult is the mixed lighting, white backgrounds, and the high speed at which the puck travels. The picture shows Guildford Flames Player no 39 scoring a Goal. The match was shot on a pair of DCS520 bodies with a 200mm F1.8L USM lens and a 20-35mm F2.8L.
RUGBY I hate rugby, (that’s not true I enjoy watching Rugby, it is just that I am not very good at photographing rugby, give me any sport instead, including Ice Hockey and I’ll be happy). I have covered a number of rugby matches in my time, including the Heineken Cup Final at Twickenham, but there are several things that I cannot really get to grips with. Running up and down the touch line with a 400mm F2.8 and a 70-200mm F2.8L bolted to 2 camera bodies, plus a monopod isn’t fun, then having to kneel down in the mud and shit to take photographs doesn’t really appeal and finally the fact that to get anything very different is very difficult to achieve.
The fact that most papers tend to use the same sort of images every week is also disappointing, either celebrations pictures, try pics occasionally or else action from off the back of the scrum, which invariably means the scrum half flinging the ball out. Combine this with the fact that the lighting in most of the Rugby grounds are worse than Non League Football grounds and you are really going to struggle.
Tennis and Cricket
Now Tennis I hate watching tennis, but thoroughly enjoy photographing it, likewise I thoroughly enjoy photographing cricket, I cannot think of anything more enjoyable than being paid to sit in the sunshine all day, photographing Cricket, it can be a long day, but you can generally choose where you are going to work from, sit in a reasonably comfortable seat, periodically dive up to the press room to sort and wire some images, and most cricket clubs treat you pretty well, laying on food and drink throughout the course of the day.
Just remember to take your sun block with you, The Kennington Oval (AMP Oval as it now is) is a cracking little ground to work at, if you get there early enough there is no problem with parking, the ground is small enough that most of it can be covered with a 400mm, in fact in a couple of places (depending on which strip they are batting on) the 400mm can be a bit too tight. One day games make for bright and exciting images, as the teams play in garishly colour kit with a white ball, which against the out of focus white seating behind makes the images seem almost three dimensional. However, the white cricket ball can almost disappear against the background. Test matches tend to be played at a slower pace, and lasting for 4 or 5 days means that you have a better chance of getting some strong images as you will have time to experiment.
As with football and rugby papers like the Celebration pictures (either celebrating wickets, centuries etc) or strong action pictures, the demolition of someone’s stumps, or spectacular catches or a batsman smashing a 6 out of the ground, are the main ones that spring to mind. So it is important that you do not spend too much time in the beer tent, otherwise you will miss the main action. I personally do not visit the beer tent, as there have been a number of occasions when I have been called and sent on another job, so I do not consider it very professional to turn down another job, because I am unable to drive. If however you guarantee that you will be there all day, best catch a train or taxi, and enjoy the cider.