Welsh sport is a regular focus of Composed Images. The hunt for publications is never easy and often fruitless. But it’s usually interesting.
I doggedly persist. Not cool to say, but this is partly for the love of it – for the stories, the people and passion it evokes. It’s partly for the dim hope of publications, and partly out of some vague bloodymindedness. Keep at it, try to develop and improve all the time. You’ll have good games, bad games, indifferent games – just like any player, manager, reporter, commentator, pundit. Keep at it.
Being based in Cardiff means there are always opportunities nearby. Whether it’s the Wales International football team, currently enjoying an almost unprecedented media spotlight, their female colleagues or the more traditional fare of rugby, there’s always a game on.
The profile of the Wales national team is higher than ever. This is largely thanks to one Cardiff born player, Gareth Bale. A star of Real Madrid with an exceptional price-tag on his head, there is always attention on Mr Bale. Naturally I try to get images like any other photographer in his vicinity. And following the national team training sessions in the build-up to matches can offer different perspectives, especially if you stay on your toes.
[Read the Composed post: Euro 2016 from Cardiff]
In the hunt for publications and different images, you need to go where other photographers aren’t. Often this means you won’t get any remarkable images. The best positions for goals and celebrations will be quickly snapped up, or you’ll feel swallowed and absorbed in a long row of big agency photographers. But sometimes you can steal a march, or get lucky.
At a Cardiff City Stadium training session ahead of the opening World Cup 2018 Qualifier against Moldova, I found myself the first photographer heading down the touchline. All the others had been in the press conference, which I chose not to attend. (In the confines of a press conference room the chances of getting anything different or unusual are virtually zero).
Approaching the tunnel I noticed the new creative imagery being for the World Cup Qualification campaign. Images of players have been edited to create artistic versions of themselves. These images have been used to brand parts of the stadium and the tunnel itself. Leading the pack is the main man Gareth Bale. As the players were beginning to head out onto the pitch for training, I decided to perch over the tunnel like the autograph hunter I was as a kid. That was back in the day, signatures not selfies. Fortunately it paid off and I managed to grab a frame or two.
[Read the Composed post: Bale’s Wales]
It was nice knowing I’d grabbed a couple of cute frames with no other photographer next to me capturing similar. It was also pleasing to receive positive comments about the images from fellow photographers and peers whom I respect. This sort of thing can help if you’re losing heart and hope in the foolhardy feeling hunt for publications. It suggests you’re at least doing something right.
Did it get any publications? No. If the image had been filed by a big agency photographer, it probably would have enjoyed several leading up to the match. As mentioned before here, as a photographer for smaller agencies, you have to be relaxed and philosophical about it feeling unfair. You have to brush it off, look ahead to the next fixture, keep chipping away and go again. You have to believe in perseverance and bloodymindedness, while trying not to take it all too seriously.
At half time of the match I didn’t move and found myself absorbed into a long row of photographers. All of us would have captured similar shots of Bale’s goals and celebrations as the home side ran out easy 4-0 winners. Part of the pleasure also comes afterwards, after the immediate urgent hustle and stress. You can cast an eye over the images again and give them alternative edits, a different look to the standard picturedesk ready style.
The following week saw my Wales sport photography focus on the Wales women’s team. This match saw Wales triumph over Israel women at Newport County’s ever busy Rodney Parade ground. I tried to make the most of some nice, late summer evening light. Unfortunately they were no longer able to qualify for the Euro 2017 tournament, but Wales delivered a strong show and Israel were convincingly beaten 3-0.
Switching sport, the next day I pointed my lens at rather bigger human subjects in the form of rugby players. A hard fought and closely matched Guinness PRO12 match saw Cardiff Blues come out 23-19 winners at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park. Rugby is a tougher challenge to photograph, with more people on the pitch, no names on shirts or numbers on shorts. This makes the all important time-sensitive captioning of images more difficult.
Hunting publications will always be a hard challenge. The media world is evolving, morphing and shrinking all the time, with less budget for photos. Competition amongst photographers will always be fierce because sport, photography, and the marriage of the two, are extremely popular. But subjects for Welsh sport photography are richer than ever across south Wales, Newport, Cardiff and Swansea.
If you need professional photography for your club – professional or amateur, men or women, adults or children – please get in touch.
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