Sports photography is about capturing fleeting moments It might be a moment of action, it might be a moment of emotion. My priority is not producing 20 pictures from a day, it’s producing one great picture a week. I’m honed in every time I walk out the door, to take a great picture. I don’t see the point in taking a good picture and that’s turned into where I am really, you know, I’m an Olympic specialist. Olympic Photo Expert, 17 Olympics Covered. Three-Time Winner of British Sports Photographer of the Year. NPPA Best of Photojournalism Awards 2017 “Sports Photojournalist of the Year”. World Press Winner Sports Action Winner 2005. I like doing Olympic-type sports, you know athletics, gymnastics, swimming’s my gig generally. I’m a sports fan, but I’m a photography lover. Gambling for Greatness Sometime somebody on a tour said, “Why on earth do you sit over there, you know? You won’t get any of the action.” I said, “Yeah, but if I get a really great picture, it’s going to be a great picture. The background’s going to be good, the lights going to be good.” I’d rather take the risk of getting a great picture, than taking whatever I take from the more traditional position, it will be boring, it will never be great. When you are, say, at something like the Tour de France
or at a world championship cycling, you know you might walk you know, a few miles looking for a good position that’s well-lit, that has a good, clean background, where you can shoot a dynamic angle. In my sports photography, I like super long lenses, super wide lenses. My stand out favorite lens so far is the 12-24mm. I like to get really low and look up at people or get really high and look down. At the French Open, for instance, I frequently go up into the public stands and shoot looking down on the clay. I think the clay at the French Open at Monte Carlo or Barcelona is the most fantastic textured background and I think it’s a nice, cleaner background. Know Your Camera & Lenses People like to say the camera doesn’t matter. In sports photography, it does. You know, I mean, without the big, long lens, without the fast motor drive, you’re not going to get those special pictures. Learn how your equipment works.
You know, there are a lot of photographers
don’t apply themselves to their equipment. You know, this is a highly technological kit with a lot of different settings, you’ve got to apply yourself to get the best out of it. The Sony AF settings, and there are many of them, a bit confusing to start with, but you play with them, and you learn, and you work the ones that you like. And I found for various sports, different sports, I use different settings, you know. For motor racing I’d use one setting, for athletics I’d use one setting, for boxing, slightly different. The first time you play with that eye focus it will blow your mind. Think about it, a guy’s running towards you, he’s got his arm out like this and the racket’s there. In the Eye AF situation you just press the button on the lens and
then the focus is locking on the eye. It helps you get pictures which you didn’t get before. Be Bold Sports photographers generally like shooting telephotos. They like getting in bold, they like the way the background is killed by the limited depth of field, they like the look on the faces because you’re seeing more intensity. The 400mm is as sharp as you would hope, and with the convertors it’s great. The ability to shoot with an 800mm is a real advantage. When you’re photographing swimming like this, you’re looking for all sorts of nice bits of detail. And a swimmer’s movement is very erratic, like butterfly and breaststroke, both of which we shot in this thing, are like this sort of movement. You know, you’re looking at nothing and then a head bops up out of the water, then a head bops out of the water. And framing it alone is difficult, you know the guy bops out of … oh, like this. And if you’re on a monopod, you’re rocking back and forth, which is a different, difficult movement. So I found I got far more success by hand holding this lens, which I would never have normally even contemplated with a 400mm. In a couple of shots, I got a beautiful reflection of the rippling water in the girl’s goggles that I really love. I was composing my pictures better because I was able to handhold such a huge telephoto. The Sony Advantage The great thing about the A9 is it’s completely silent, so I can shoot swing sequences at tournament golf even. 20 frames a second, I can shoot any point of the players swing, without any chance of my photography disturbing the player. This combination of 400mm and A9 is a golf photographers dream. The equipment enables me to get those special moments. So I want to have the best tools money can buy to make sure I can take the best possible pictures. I ‘ve changed the way I shoot because of this new camera. It ‘s given me new facility, it ‘s given me new functionality, that helps me to get better pictures. Having an EVF instead of a traditional viewfinder means that my images are more perfect arriving at my laptop and it’s noticeable now in when I look at my pictures at the end of an event. There’s no mirror bouncing up and down and distracting me while I’m looking through the frame and when I’m composing, helps me get a better picture.
The tools help me get the moments I want to get and sports photography is about those moments.