All The P's: Planning & Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Photography (Sort Of)

December 10, 2012  •  2 Comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checklist for a football photographer:

 

Sunday evening, get home from two days of football.
Sunday night, check fixtures for next week.
Later Sunday night, check newspaper websites for any publishes (there's likely none because you don't work for Getty or AP).
Very early Monday morning, check Press Display for any publishes in print (probably still none).
Monday morning, book local midweek fixtures with the agency.
Monday lunchtime, book not-very-local weekend fixtures (make a day of it, why not?  Norwich is lovely on Saturdays in April).
Wednesday morning, get knocked back by Tottenham Press Office due oversubscribing.  Fail.
Thursday evening, watch Tottenham on telly score 4 at home (and all at the end you definitely would've sat at, definitely).  Fail.
Friday night, don't get drunk.  Charge batteries and pack gear instead.  Must remember cameras.
Saturday morning, get on train to provincial town somewhere in England.  Passively enjoy rowdy jokes by away fans on train.
Check map for directions to provincial stadium on edge of town.  Share cab with same away fans.
If first visit, buy team badge from street seller.
Cigarette.
Find wire room.  May require directions from steward - if convoluted, verify with second or third steward.  Find tiny unmarked barn door at back of ground, leading to a damp cupboard shared with the pie baking lady (Fulham) - this is wire room.
Get in early.
Sign in and check register for known snappers and agencies. Big club = big list.  Barnet = no list, enjoy.
Collect lanyard and bib.  Wear lanyard and bib.
Say hello to friendly faces.  Smile feebly at not so friendly ones.  
If anyone offers advice, listen.
Fail to find a seat.  Instead lean on pie baking lady's trolley and wait to be moved to just outside the toilet (Aston Villa).
Rush to pitchside and find your spot - leave monopod as marker.
Walk around ESPN booth broadcasting from side of pitch (Wembley).
Back to wire room - laptop out and plugged in.  
Prep edit presets for captions and team squads.
Test FTP connection ready for wiring.
Test cameras and format memory cards.
Test free food for any sign of quality (Thank you Arsenal, no thank you Chelsea).
Cigarette.
Put on jumper and hat and waterproofs (its minus 2 degrees outside and you're sitting on wet grass).
Check websites for last minute team news.
Check early kickoff results on TV in wire room before heading out to pitch.
Cigarette.
Head out to pitch.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Assemble cameras and lenses pitchside.  200mm by side, and 400mm on monopod - remove hood to avoid wrath of fellow snappers.
Observe weather and stadium lighting and dial in ideal exposure settings accordingly.  
Dial in manual white balance (players must look human).
Thank club guy for bringing round team sheet.  Neatly fold team sheet into handy pocket size.
Avoid getting smashed in the face by flying footballs as players warm up.
Photograph particularly colourful fans.  Look out for ones in stupid costumes, or ones with funny signs, or ones fighting.
Photograph teams as they come out.  Study the lineup - do you know who is playing?  Its important when you caption.
Photograph manager sitting in dugout.  If looking glum, keep as stock for when he gets fired.
Photograph game - try and get the important bits - keep your head on a swivel.
Watch, anticipate, and use your football brain.
If goal and/or celebration, import to laptop, edit, crop and caption and FTP to all papers, but quicker than the guy doing exactly the same next to you whilst balancing two heavy cameras and keeping an eye on the action in case something else happens that you can't afford to miss.  Oh and its raining.
If red card or injury or some other contentious happenings, do the same.
If fan on naked on pitch, do the same.  Include rugby tackle by Police.
If 0-0 thriller, follow expressive or famous players until they pull a face.
Try real hard to get the best images in focus.
Missed the goal?  Try not to panic - there could be another one soon.
Missed the celebration?  Panic.
Linesman in the way?  Sit somewhere else, and don't ever sit there again.
Swear at crappy internet connection (West Ham).  Resort to sending one low-res image at a time.
Swear as laptop battery slowly dies.  Dim screen for optimal laptop battery management.
Swear as lens falls of bayonette mount.  Borrow precision screwdriver from better prepared guy next to you, because you don't have one.  Fix lens.
Promise to buy yourself precision screwdrivers.
At end of game, wire last few stock frames.  Be picky.
Pack your stuff, head home and cross all available digits that you sell something to make it all worthwhile. Half page in a national paper would be amazing, back page would be nice, fag packet size pic still pays.  Any sale will do.  Its the stuff that puts bread on the table after all.
If nothing gets in, chin up and tits out and start this checklist all over again.  Never give up.
 
Seeing your work in print and bylined is brilliantly rewarding after such challenging work.  Its not a glamorous job, but it is a privilege, and not to be taken for granted.  Work hard, be humble, keep learning and enjoy it.  This is the beautiful game and you love it.
 
(Written by myself, for myself, to myself).
 
 

Comments

You know who(non-registered)
Big T got it wrong, Edison took 2000 attempts at the lightbulb and your blog shows hope, grit and determination tinged with frustration. This is what you want to do and I am proud that you are doing it.keep the faith. X
Big Tony(non-registered)
Great reading. Bit frustrating, but think of Edison. He took 1000 attempts to invent the lightbulb. He did not class the previous 999 attempts as failures but learning curves.
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