HOCKEY PHOTOGRAPHY IS FOR ME MORE THAN THE GAME

HOCKEY PLAYER PAPPING MADRID 2007

NOTE- click on any image to enlarge ( these are all heavily reduced resolution versions  for ease of upload, opening speed & deter copyright misuse!)

A shot of adrenalin driven me , (sober as a judge as I only drink water on duty) , taken by a player around was it 1 a.m. in the morning in central Madrid 2007. This back then was  a fifty seven year old body after working being on the go with camera for then 17 hours (with an hours break for food and a shower at my hotel  ,  saying  its to wants to go home now  but the child  within, professional to the end, never tires and when I am hired that is what you get , dedication, passion and stamina. Its not a job, its my life and this is how I chose to spend it! It is not uncommon for me to spend a week covering an event extensively and doing that on only two or three hours sleep each night.

A major hockey event  , often abroad for players and media, is a demanding time in terms of  disciplined focus on the job in hand for both for players, staff and media professionals.  Professional photographers and journalists like to eat and thus they shoot what pays  the bills , stuff they can sell to agencies and or which meets their client’s needs for editorial use. They shoot to a brief and thus for example you will always see more photographer’s pitch side on finals day than you will during pool games. It is harsh economics.

But whilst the purpose of that work for sports people and photographers alike,  is focusing on the game, there is always  down time and usually some sort of evening hockey family celebration after  the final whistle blows, the awards have been presented, players have returned to the hotel, showered and changed. Most media professionals cease to work when the stadium has emptied and leave.  I call these part timers!  The head shot of me above may look as if I am a little the worse for wear due to beers but in fact that is the look of a slightly unfit sports photographer, pretty knackered after shooting non stop through finals day on the pitch and the continuing on into the wee small hours documenting the players celebrations in a local night club. all work and no play makes Jack and Jill dull boys and girls and players have a full life off the pitch no more worthy of celebration.

WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT MY COVERAGE OF EVENTS

My role is to record achievement empathetically  whether in sport or other contexts and especially milestone life events, with a humane, warm  professional  detachment , documenting other people’s lives in images for them. Players have family and friends and such events that go with the actual game have an important place in their memories so why not have someone there recording such events and freeing them to relax and party on?  It is of course especially in such contexts to respect the players , fans and their families and also  to avoid taking images that might compromise them or the game. such work needs to be done professionally,  discreetly and with the consent and trust of those people I am mingling with . Trust and professional reputation are essential in my line of work and sensationalising would put me out of business in a second.  In my social photography I am essentially in pap mode , paparazzi without the unpleasant connotations of the word as I aim to give people the celebrity treatment in my work. You will appreciate that in no way can you mingle, essentially with a crowd of strangers with a camera phone or compact and attract people’s undivided attention.

My camera , partly because of the detachable addition of a necessary battery pack screwed to the underneath  enabling me to shoot for hours without the need to change batteries. And , indoors ,in low light a speed-light, a  flash gun on top of the camera body with a curly lead going to a quantum powerpack hooked onto my belt to give me a formidable blast of controlled light. The rather heavy gear is on a scale of size people do not normally come across and it actually flags up what you are about and suggests you are very probably rather good at it and also has the virtue of encouraging people, pairs and small groups to pose informally out of choice. Also of course the best portraits are informal and done with the consent of the parties and a person has  to be pleasantly assertive, polite ,sociable and able to get everyone’s attention for the duration of the shutter  release as a minimum.

 

You need total confidence in yourself and your skills. Can you look quickly  in the review window, be saying to the subjects , not quite perfect let’s have another go ,  whilst at the same time twiddling command dials byt touch only making necessary adjustments at the same time?  Even the best of use can’t do perfect every pop- people blink , people have their eyes shut or own in a group isn’t looking at camera, flash guns may miss a flash, or even the shutter might jam and you have to have the ability to think on your feet. I do this sort of thing through friendly dialogue with people. I have  tricks for overcoming coyness or blinling reflexes and announcing that adds to the fun and gets the result. these are my tricks of the trade and remain with me – what works for me may not work  for you. How do you cope with people who blink on camera for example ( mail me if you can’t find a solution ! )

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