What's it like to photograph a football match? Brighton Vs Lazio - Pre Season Friendly
So what is it like to photograph a football match...?
A few of my friends shoot football and have made careers doing so. I asked Paul Terry with his 10 years of experience and connections if he would take me along to a game. We chose the pre season friendly between Brighton Hove Albion and Lazio at Brighton's home ground the AMEX.
This was a perfect choice as Paul knows the Press Office guys there very well and was able to secure two photographers passes. I found out that "out of season" games don't need a Dataco license for a pass. A Dataco license is difficult to get as a new or even existing sports photographer, due to the volume of published work photographers are required to submit. Generally an agency would have the pass rather than the individual photographer.
Paul and I arrived at the Stadium at 1pm giving us plenty of time to prepare ahead of Kick off at 3pm. We made our way into the Media Room, signed in with the Press Officer and were handed a bib and stool. I had expected a bib but not a stool, I had even borrowed a stool but was advised to use the clubs as it was the correct height above the digital sponsorship boards but not high enough to block the view of the fans. We found two workspaces next to each other and setup our laptops.
Paul whilst enjoying a filling roast chicken lunch (free food and free drinks for press - who knew?!) created the IPTC file to allow for quick captioning of the images during and post match. With this file it's possible to type "\b3\" in Photo Mechanic and this would then auto fill the player name wearing the #3 top.
It was about 2:30pm before we made it out to the pitch to find our shooting locations. The club and club photographer limit where the guest photographers can sit during the match. At Brighton the photographers can sit along the North long side of the pitch and to the North of the goals on both sides - pretty much all looking into the sun! The Southern side of the pitch during the match is reserved for the club photographer. It's also the done thing that once you're in location, you don't move during the match. We chose to sit approximately 10 meters along from the North East corner of the Stadium on the long side of the pitch. To begin, Brighton would be attacking towards us. This location gave us a good opportunity to shoot "stock images" as well as capture in game action shots, but is less ideal for "goal shots". For the second half we moved to the Eastern short side of the field between the goal and the corner flag. For this half, Lazio would be attacking us with their fans right behind us. I will add here I was surprised how close we were to the pitch and to the fans. The fans were only a couple of meters behind us.
The game itself was pretty boring - to be fair I'm not a football fan anyway, but everyone we spoke to agreed - the game finished Brighton 0 - Lazio 1.
I've photographed charity football matches on 5-a-side pitches, here it's possible to photograph the players wherever they are on the pitch, unlike the AMEX where it is considerable larger! If the players were down the far end of the pitch I felt they were too small in the frame to capture an image, they really had to be our side of the halfway line to create a good photograph. It felt like, for much of the game, in both halves, that the play was "at the wrong end" so our opportunities for images felt reduced, plus the only goal of the game was at that end too!
I was shooting on a full frame Canon D1X with a Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 lens. I had another two bodies nearby with the standard sports go to lens a 70-200mm and wide lens, but these didn't really get used. The 300mm end of the long lens was almost close enough, but Paul's 400mm F2.8 with the extra 100mm reach made all the difference. The only downside with the 400mm is the cost of the lens and its weight, it's huge and pretty tricky to move into position and keep up with the action - this was my experience during the ten minutes when Paul entrusted me with it.
The game flew by, the 45 minute halves went very quickly and I, unlike Paul wasn't uploading live images throughout the game. We both are Stock Photographers from Alamy, so as this was a friendly with little news interest we uploaded the images to Paul's account with Alamy. Here is a link to all the images Paul and I uploaded:
Post game, it was back to the Media Room to edit, process, caption and upload any further images, grab a drink then head home. around 6pm.
I had a hugely enjoyable afternoon, learnt plenty and had a good laugh too. Football is tough to photograph, the play is quick and the ball moves swiftly and is tricky to keep in frame, my respect of football photographers grown substantially.
Below are a selection of my images that went to Alamy. To check out my stock work please have a look at: http://bit.ly/Tony-Rogers-on-Alamy
Keywords: American Express Community Stadium, Amex, Brighton Hove Albion, Football, Grey2Black, Lazio, Photography, Professional, Sport, Tony Rogers
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