SPECIAL EVENT PHOTOGRAPHY: GB OLYMPIC HOCKEY REUNION

L-R. Mr.David Meek, author/journalist, Mr.Barry Davies, BBC TV Sports commentator, Mr Pete Savage Talk Hockey Radio Editor ,journalist

As a professional photographer in what has become a devilishly competitive industry and market place and with the explosive growth of social networking and image sharing websites , combined with ever cheaper and easy to use digital cameras, we have seen more and more do it yourself photography. Photogrpahy has become even more popular as a hobby and technology exists to enable even novices to take very acceptable images. The professional therefore has to know and be able to justify very clealry why clients and customers should  turn to them to record life defining moments and milestone ocassions in particular.

In real terms  to earn the label professional, your work is expected to be first class and that you have the range of competencies and experience enabling you to achieve consistent high standards in any context and with any subject without fail. A professional though is actually defined as a photographer that earns the bulk of their income through that profession.  The professional should be able to produce images to suit the needs of clients who need top end work for marketing, PR and commercial and editorail use. That is whether the final result is needed as a small image in a magazine or webspage or a giant road side advertising billboard. Typically pros shoot on RAW rather than jpeg format used by amatuers. Jpegs are compressed image files which are convenient but are not of sufficiently high quality for very big enlargements. Huge Raw files also provide the industry with greater flexibility in terms of editing and enhancing images where jpegs offer limited scope in that regard.

Why I am hired is because I have innate tireless energy and enthusiasm ,  long experience as a photographer, journalist, author and publisher and make broad and effective use of a large internet presence. It is not finally the length of my experience or the range of skills I have. It is the confidence I have and the certainty  I offer ,that I can produce the goods to a consitently high standard ,every time , gauranteed  and can meet my clients needs and more.  It can be very stressful if you are an amateur or hobbyist and you agree to cover a special event or to agree to do jobs that normally would be done by a professional . There are  people in business who, although free to do so,  try and cut corners on costs or avoid payment altogether by asking friends or people with cameras on the payroll. The problem is that the market is very unforgiving and , unless the amateur is outsatnding and can produce consistently great results, it is going to show and that is bad for business when your graohics are bleow par. Things can and do go wrong and conditions can change and you need competence and experience to be able to make relevant adjustements or even improvise.  When hiring amateurs who may not eve charge you, of course you have no comeback if they screw up.  Pay peanuts and what do you get?

At most social events I cover, most guests have their own cameras with them and generally shoot small groups of their nearest friends. Taking shots of everyone at an occasion requires a great deal of self confidence, needing you to be sociable, pleasantly assertive and comfortable organising and directing people to get consistently great shots. If I  am being paid , my client will get between three and five hundred great shots to a consitently high quality that are all keepers. They don’t get badly framed, wrongly exposed, out of focus shots or ones with red-eye and they do get sharp happy , well posed or candid portraits with everyone looking thier best and looking at the camera! It isn’t enough to point and shoot-people don’t want shots where they don’t look at their best. The virtue of digital professional cameras is that you can preview shots on the screen , back of camera and can zoom in to check focus but also check exposure , colour and contrast. You need to be confident if a shot say is too bright or soft ( slightly out of focus )and needs taking again and to keep the subject there so repeat shots can be made. this is especially important where using flash. I find that some people want to actually see the shot you just took of them and I always oblige, zooming in on their faces and showing them.  They I guess want to make sure the image is flattering and why not ! If they aren’t happy always willing to reshoot for them!

I can spend up to a day after and event editing shots one at a time to get the best for a client  carefully cropping to get maximum ipact and cut out wasted space in the backgrounds. At social events essentially I am left with high quality group, pair and individual portraits- my vriteria  is that they would not look out of place in a glossy magazine. when i work, everyone is a celebrity for the night and I think of it as giving them the red carpet treatment. My work is a celebration of people at ease and of friends and family. My whole opus , the results of an evenings intensive work over 5 or six hours on the go , must be a complete record of the event and each of my pictures as good or better than those people have seen of themsleves and fit to be framed and displayed. I you can do all this, go ahead and take it on, if you aren’t sure, leave it to the professional and you can then relax and enjoy yourself while he or she does all the hard work!

GB OLYMPIC REUNION PHOTOGRAPHY COMMISSION

The above image is just one of hundreds I produced from a prestigious local / national event I was commisioned to photograph. It was a reunion of national hockey veterans as GB and England former stars including our last olympian medal winning team. Exhibition games were played during the day followed by a black tie evening reception, presentation and dinner dance. The BBC’s Barry Davies , sports commentator was one of the presenters for the Olympics where our team last enjoyed Olympic medal success. Barry is an authority on the game and a passionate supporter of it to this day.My client was Brooklands  Hockey and Sports Club, one of the largest multi sport clubs in my area with a highly successsul and ambitious hockey section. It formerly boasted both a men’s and women’s EHL Premier Division team as well as a number of veteran, senior and junior teams in a vibrant and forward looking club.

The Chair of the club was aware of the quality of my work both at local and national level and I had been a frequent visitor photographing club hockey at Brooklands and offering media and PR support via my website. I had also covered international veterans Four Nations events for the team he captained Scotland  at venues in Ireland and Wales. He is also CEO of a global IT communications company and I had the privilege to be hired to cover   his company’s annual corporarate staff fun day and dinner and dance.

For the client I offer deals where images at orginal resolution are provided , in line  with agreement with my terms and conditions for use, usually shared copyright and presented , after meticulouse editing , on DVD for personal use, media and or commercial and editorial use. Thus the client or customer has latitude to put images to a variety of uses to suit their needs whether  that be for website, press or other uses including fund raising through selling prints and image files copies to members and their families. Please contact me if you need such services via my mobile 07989 300104 or via e mail at johne.coxon@ntlworld.com or via my website www,johncoxon.com.

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