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The World Cup Review: What, When, and How

It’s been a while. I really had to take a break from BLFS activities as it was nearly impossible to shoot that laughably small football tournament in Brazil whilst being a good host to the BLFS nation. So forgive me. Por favor.  And this is a long one so I suggest you make some tea or coffee before digging in.

I thought I would talk about my experience as a professional freelance photographer shooting the world cup. Not the ones who work for an agency or a newspaper. Basically a backpacker’s guide to shooting the world cup. Beleza.

First of all, I was there to shoot as many matches as possible. I estimated 21 and fell 1 short and ended up with 20. Why? I got killed by the fog in Curitiba which grounded my plane until the match in Belo Horizonte started.

Basically you live and die depending on your flight. As I have experienced in Curitiba, if you are planning on shooting all 14 group stage matches in the first 2 weeks of the world cup, you will inevitably miss a match or two. Don’t sweat it. These matches are nowhere near as crucial as the matches in the latter stages, which is the tournament. Why? Because those are the ones that really count. And those are the ones you will see the agony of going home and the joy of sticking around for another match. Those are the ones with penalty shoot outs of which I have shot 6 of them. I think that’s a world cup record.

If you got the time and not much money, take the bus. They are far more reliable than the airplane, but obviously take more time. Had I known prior to arriving in Brazil that buses between Sao Paulo, Rio, and Belo Horizonte can be had as low as 70 Reais (bit more than 20 EUR), I would have saved a lot of money. Another advantage of buses over flights are that you don’t have to goto the airport. Most airports are far and sometimes in another city. Make sure you understand how long it will take to get to the city from the airport. Case in point: Congonhas airport is NOT in Sao Paulo. Just like Tokyo Disneyland is NOT in Tokyo. Google maps is your friend. Do your research. Oh that’s hurting my ears…

Taxis. If you want to get to a world cup stadium, you need to take one, but you also need to walk. As with South Africa, there was a perimeter blockade on all the stadiums in Brazil. That means you have to walk, sometimes more than 3km. With your gear. So no fatties and slobs and dudes with bad knees need not apply unless you are working for Getty. Then you get a private bus from the airport that takes you directly to the stadium. With a cup of tea while you’re at it.

One other way to get to the stadium is to get on the bus from one of the FIFA media hotels. You do not need to be staying in one to reap the benefit of this wonderful bus that takes you directly in front of the media centre, but it will be best to stay close to one. Make sure you know the bus schedule as some of them only go once every 60 minutes instead of the more normal every 30 minutes.

I’m also going to include the lodging part of it. If you don’t have the money to stay at hotels, you can stay in hostels. I don’t recommend it because you have expensive gear with you. Without your gear, you cannot shoot. If you cannot shoot, what the fuck are you doing at the world cup?. What I did was to register and contact people via If you are lucky, you get to stay at someone’s house. For free. But if you use this service, please be courteous. This is not a free hotel service. You will not be alone, but you will be with the people who are kind enough to let you use their space. Bring a gift. Offer to take out the garbage. Dance your country’s traditional dance to the samba. Appreciate their hospitality.

The massive advantage of a service like Couchsurfing is that you will get to stay with a local. Locals who know a place or two about the city you will be staying. This brings me to…

No, not at the stadiums because that’s reserved for Getty photographers. I’m talking about shooting places where you have no access to, such as the favela. I for one promised some people that I won’t be going there because A) it’s stupid B) it’s just dumb C) it’s not safe. But I do things whenever I feel like it. So I went. But not before taking every possible precautions. You need to find someone who is inside the said community. They know some people, went to school with them, supplies drugs for them. Whatever. Because the difference between you ending up in a ditch, robbed of your gear (once again, no gear no shooting) and you getting shots most people will die for, is the connection these people have with the dangerous parts of the city. Even so, be aware. Don’t flaunt your gear. When you’re not shooting, put it in a bag. Not a photo bag, but a normal bag where you can take your camera in and out quickly. Don’t take too much gear either. Keep it simple. Body and 2 lenses. Also dress like you don’t have much money. Don’t dress like a hobo or don’t smell like one. But dress like you could need a shave and a haircut.

You are in another country where your fucking language is not the one they use. Tough. Learn it. It will be the difference between you getting a great shot on a local futsal court versus them ignoring your request to shoot the sole of their feet. Doesn’t matter if your Portuguese is not perfect. If there is a will, there will be conversation. They will appreciate you more if you see that you are trying. Language is not about getting it right. It’s how much you want the other person to understand what you want. Keep things simple. Use your hands. Your legs. Whatever. Get your point across. You make your luck and this will be one of the most important elements when you are shooting off the beaten track.

Bring as much as you can. You are not going to go home for one month and daddy and mommy aren’t going to be sending your 70-200 f2.8 in the mail. But you mustn’t forget the biggest advantage of a tournament this size. Gear rental. Yes, N and C will lend you gear. You want that 600 f4? Sure. 1DX? Absolutely. But be aware that they will lend you one body and one lens per match. Maybe they will throw in a teleconverter if you smell good Needless to say, it’s not a be all end all service and therefore you should bring your own gear as well.

And if you are Japanese, they will take really really really good care of you. I know this because I am one. And they LOVE you more than your significant others can ever love you. I have no idea why there is such a love affair between the N and C and Japanese photographers. but take advantage of it. Another reason to learn Japanese besides wanting to watch anime and read manga. Case in point: I got to trade in my 2 x 32GB XQD card for a 2 x 64GB XQD card. Bless them.

But remember, you will only get to rent it for the match and you’ll have to give it back at the end of that match. Subsequently if the match is a significant one, it will bring in more photographers than the norm, (in my case anything involving Brazil). Then severe gear shortage. Also expect not to get a D4s, but a D4 or a D3s if you don’t queue. Or nothing at all. The rule of thumb is to use the N and C services only in emergency. But feel free to get your gear cleaned and checked. It’s also free. And so are their rain covers.

You are not going home for a month. Bring two physical backups. Sleep with them. Don’t let them out of your sight. But try not to coddle them too much. They need discipline.

This really depends. This time the most important client was myself. I kept all my good stuff because you know, I’m making a book ( But this is an anomaly. In most cases, you will have couple of clients you need to tend to. You will need to be aware what they want. Action? Fans? Beautiful fans? More beautiful fans? More beautiful fans with less clothes? What format? What size? Captions or no captions? Before the match? At half time? After the match? As most of my clients are magazines, I didn’t have to send them like the Getty guys do(and I really sympathise with their plight. They work like dogs out there), but I had some hard deadlines, some of them 30 minutes after the match. Remember that you don’t like penalty shootouts. Because they will significantly reduce your time to meet your deadline.

Media ticketing
This is the crux of the world cup. Stupid amount of time and energy are spent on media ticketing. First, if you manage to convince FIFA that you are important enough to them, you will get an accreditation. That is step 1. Next you need to apply for a media ticket for the individual matches. You do that through the FIFA media portal. Then they will send you an email telling you if your request has been accepted or rejected. You will also be told which priority group you will belong to for the this match. Unless you’ve been a bad boy or a girl, you will get into all the matches EXCEPT for the final. More on that later.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about the priority groups. You belong to priority group 1 if you belong to a media of one of the two countries playing that match. If it is Uruguay v Greece and you are a Greek photographer (you’ve got nice long shiny hair), you will be in priority group 1. Group 2 is all about the host media. Yes, that’s Brazil to you and me. Doesn’t matter if you can use a camera, you will still get a chance to pick ahead of people who know what bulb or teleconverter is. Priority group 3 belongs to countries that are involved in the world cup. Even if you are Japanese and you suck at football, you will still be in this group. Group 4 are for the true losers, countries not involved in the world cup. Therefore if you are Zlatan, you will be in group 4 shaking your head left in right in utter disgust.

Once you have been accepted, you will goto the stadium. You will need to goto the photographers’ ticketing desk and receive a number in your priority group. Around 4 hours before kickoff, they will start calling your number. Priority Group1 number 1, Priority Group1 number 2, Priority Group1 number 3, and so forth. Once your number has been called up you get to select your seat on the pitch. You will be shown a map of the stadium and you can sit wherever you want as long as no one else is sitting there. This goes on until group 1 is done. Then off to group 2 and so on.

I apologise if this portion of the post is coming across as boring as boring can be. I said it was important. I never said it was exciting.

You will be stuck in your seat for 90 minutes and further if it goes to extra time and penalties. So you need to really think about 1) When things will happen 2) What you want to shoot 3) How you want to shoot. When, is predicting when they will score. If you think Uruguay will score because Suares is concentrating more on football than biting someone then you might want to sit where Uruguay will be attacking in the 1st half. If he bites someone in the 2nd half closer to a Greek goal, you’re out of luck. But, let’s say you want to shoot the Greek attackers tending to their beautiful locks. Then you will sit on the Greek attacking side in the first half and pray that Suares doesn’t bite you in the 2nd half.

The best chance of capturing the celebrations after the goal and general good action shots is the position next to the goal. If you want the players to be moving east west whilst attacking the goal, you should sit on the side of the pitch. If Neymar (Jr) had a healthy back, you will also want to be on the side of the pitch and not next to the goal. And that is another component you want to consider when selecting your seat. The celebrations after the goal. Neymar (Jr) is notorious for thanking the man up top right next to the touchline. So if you think he will score and if you want to shoot him celebrating you have to go on the side. You’ll be fucked if he doesn’t score, but you don’t know this until he doesn’t score. :)

The Final
Basically if you don’t belong to the media of the two countries that are playing (Germany and Argentina), if you don’t belong to the media of the host country (Brazil), if you don’t belong to a major news agency (AFP, Reuters, AP, etc… Getty is the official photo agency so they are in no matter what), you are fucked. Some of my Japanese colleagues were wait listed and eventually got onto the pitch, but the same could not be said for me in South Africa. 4 years ago I ended up shooting from the tribune and when you shoot from there, you stay there. Even when for the cup presentation you stay there. The only thing to be said here is that hope you were born into a country that plays good football. Therefore if you’re English, you’ll never shoot on the pitch.

Well that was long. I think I covered everything and everything else.
“But where are the photos Ryu? Why aren’t you sharing them with us? Where are they, you fucking bastard!”

Well this bastard will not be showing the majority of the photos this time around for free because I’m a horrible person who wants to sell my book. It’s Please consider buying one. For a taster please goto Ryu’s flickr page.

Obrigado for reading this atrociously long post. Hope this will spawn multiple freelance photographers who will one day get rejected by FIFA. I’m going to go play with my cats now.


Ryu: Curacao, it’s more than a drink



I’m on my way to Hannover to check out this CEBIT thing with my wife. I won’t get into the specifics of why I’m going to CEBIT or why my wife is annoying me whilst I write this post, but let’s just say that life is good when you get to go and checkout the latest gadgets and geek out for a day. Last year, my partner (sorry Matt, I’ve been unfaithful) and I went to Dominican Republic (DR) to cover baseball there. It was a successful trip as DR won World Baseball Classic and we got enough publications to be interested in our story.

Fast forward to December 2013. I reconvened with my partner in Japan (he’s a real Japanese, unlike myself) and we discussed where to go next. Since Wladmir Balentien broke Sadaharu Oh’s single season home run record and Andruw Jones contributed to the Rakuten Eagle’s championship run, Curacao was hot. I had no idea where it was, but that was where we were heading next. Tickets were booked, interviews were scheduled, shorts and sandals were packed and we arrived on the Caribbean island only to find out that it was carnival week on the island. Long story short, it was an uphill battle to schedule shoots and interviews because people wanted to party and not work. Which is a bit weird because it seemed that everyday life was a party there. Jjust so you are aware and no hard feelings towards me on a Caribbean island in February, I spent a total of 30 minutes on the beach. Therefore the other 10050 minutes were spent doing what I came there to do: shoot baseball.

In the latest podcast which should be dropping (I’m in with the kids) soon, I mentioned that I had to come up with fresh perspective on shooting baseball. The reality is that the after DR, I felt like I have left it all on the field. Needless to say, I was nervous. What if I couldn’t come up with any other way to shoot this sport? If so, would anyone be interested in buying these photos? Would a massive failure here equate to me losing all my clients? Is it over for me as a sports photographer? I kid you not. My doomsday scenario was in full mother fucking effect.

My concern became a nightmare as I stood on a baseball field in Curacao with sweat running down my spine. My mind was racing. What am I supposed to do? What can I do? Then I told myself, “Go. Shoot. Because there’s nothing else you can do.” And I did. At first it felt awkward. After that passed, it felt even more awkward. It only dawned on me that this was not the time to force the issue. Unlike a match, I had time here. Even though I had the carnival eating away at my time on the island, I knew I had time. If I fuck it up today, I still got tomorrow. So I relaxed a tiny bit. Enough for the game to come to me. Then my photos became better. Not on the first day, but from the next day and so forth. I had to just let go of myself a bit and observe. To be slightly calmer than usual. At the end of the trip, I had photos that I was relatively happy with. Not happy happy, because that never happens with me and my photos. Ever.

What did I learn in Curacao? That there is another way to approach sports photography besides my usual way of full panic mode and racing at 194km/h (that’s how fast we are moving now on the train). Although I will not change the way I approach the way I shoot sports, I now know that it’s okay to let some air into the chaos in my brain if it is needed. To wait for the moment to come to me rather than to chase after it like a sailor on the dock after a whore.

Anyway, crisis averted until Cuba in 2015. :)




























*Please Read Below*

Big Lens Fast Shutter is funded solely from the pockets of Ryu Voelkel and Matt Cohen. If you think the information we give you about sports photography is making you a better sports photographer and as a result a well balanced human being, please show us your appreciation by clicking on the “Donate” button and send some of your hard earned dollars/euros/Brixton pounds our way. People who donate will be mentioned on our next show unless you want to remain anonymous. Thank you for supporting us and may the force of sports photography be with you, always.
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BLFS 2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 59,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 22 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Therefore it would be great if we can have 365 sold out performances for 2014.

Just saying. :)


Click here to see the complete report.

Ryu: Top 10 because it’s better than Sports Illustrated

My wife is cleaning the fish tank as I write this and I really need to finish my top 10 of 2013 before she’s done.

Happy new year everyone. Just wanted to thank you for your fantabulous support for BLFS last year. It was great. We are thinking about some cool shit for 2014, so hopefully we can all ride the BLFS bus together into the sunset. Oh wait. That sounds like we’re going to end it. No, no. We will ride together to next year and beyond. That sounds marginally better. Anyway, here’s my top 10 and not top 11 like I had last year. Of course, in no particular order.

World Table Tennis Championship
My first time shooting ping pong and it was fun. And long. The reason I like this picture is that I was able to show how high she was throwing the ball. This wouldn’t have worked if I was shooting it horizontally as it would diminished the effect of the height of the ball. In any case, the sport itself is slightly boring as it is dominated by Asians who don’t know how to celebrate. Or even crack a smile. So serious.

Ai Miyazato (Japan) during Table Tennis World Championship 2013 15/5/13




















Spain v Brazil
For a lot of people who follow my work and for those who like football, this seems to be the consensus favourite of 2013. This was when Neymar went into the stands to after the medal and trophy ceremony and got mobbed by the fans. I like it because it shows the craziness of football and I got it almost exactly how I wanted it. As you may have already guessed, I had my camera above my head with my hand fully extended to get this shot. Bit of a crap shoot as I’m not looking through the viewfinder. But over the years, I have perfected the no-look shot so I basically know where my lens is pointing without looking. Seriously, I do. If I had a another go at this shot, I’d aim it a bit lower to get rid of the roof of the stadium on the upper left corner. Hopefully I’ll be in Brazil this summer to to try it again. :)

Neymar (10, Brazil) and fans during Spain v BrazilConfederations Cup 2013 30/6/13

World Swimming Championship: Diving
Also another first in my life. I shot the entire competition from beginning until the end. About 2 weeks of water sports. Oh that sounds nasty. The only time I got to see some sun was when we had the daily 6 hours break between the morning and afternoon sessions and diving. I tried to underexpose everything in diving just so I can get the light to fall onto parts of the body to create an interesting look. I sort of did that here as her face is completely dark and the rest of the body is sort of properly exposed. I also wanted to have the sky and nothing else as the background. This discipline is the most fun out of all the water stuff as the others can only be shot from the ground. Unless you have underwater housing, but that’s another story.

Women's 3 metre springboard during World Aquatic Swimming Championship FINA 2013 Barcelona 26/7/13




















World Swimming Championship: Swimming
Towards the end of my stay in Barcelona, I got bored. So, I started to experiment like a college co-ed. I was really into this under exposing stuff and this time I wanted the background to be completely black. I managed to do it, but the rest was quite underexposed as well. Mr. photoshop came to my rescue and helped me lighten things up a bit, but to be honest I find the colour to be a bit unnatural. Unfortunately this is what you have to live with sports photography as you can’t put fill lights to compensate for underexposing certain parts of the photo. But I’m content with the result. If I get a chance again this year, I might try to make it better since this is the type of action that happens almost all the time during a swim meet.

Men's 50m freestyle preliminaries during World Aquatic Swimming Championship FINA 2013 Barcelona 3/8/13

Hertha Berlin v Hamburg
I think it was my first match of the season and the only reason I went is because there is a Japanese guy playing for Hertha. I thought I could sell some of his photos to a Japanese publication. I didn’t, but I got this picture. It took me a long time, about 1/3 of the 2nd half to get it. It took this long because I was waiting for him to look “right” and everything to be aligned. I eventually did and I like the window effect at the top.  Honestly, without it, it will just be a goal keeper with his hands on his hip. Boring.

Rene Adler (15, Hamburg) during Bundesliga 2013 Hertha Berlin v Hamburg 24/8/13

Evian Championship
That’s right. You get to have infinite amount of Evian water at this event because they make (or source) the water there. If you like Evian, you’ll be in heaven. It was at a hole where you can go below the level where the golfers were so you can really get down low and get a super low angle shot. I was waiting for this particular golfer because she was wearing white and I wanted the white to blend in with the clouds. I did. And I’m okay with that.

Tee shot 16th hole final round Evian Championship 2013 15/9/13

Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund
Lest you forget I shoot football most of the time. This was one of those matches that blends in with the rest of the season with the exception of this photo. I like it because the daintiness of Giroud’s feet and the faces of both players are conveniently covered. Everything fits in well in the compositionally and order is restored.

Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund 2013 Champions League

Golden Spin
Probably the last time I will ever shoot Kim Yuna, my favourite figure skater ever. Without her, I would not have had the will to keep on shooting figure skating. I got hooked when I saw her perform in Paris and since then I’ve been shooting figure skating. My regret is that I never shot her to perfection so this one is a bit of a sentimental pick. Not that I hate this photo, but like always, I’m okay with it. This was shot during the press conference after her free performance. Bet you didn’t know that. :)

Golden Spin Zagreb 2013 Kim Yuna after Free Performance 7/12/13

Viktoria Plzen v CSKA Moscow
Another Champions League match and another monkey chat fucking piece of shit assholes. Honestly, I have no idea why UEFA doesn’t ban these fuckers. It’s 21st century and you shouldn’t have monkey chants. Fuck them. But I like this shot. Also waited a bit until things were lined up the way I wanted before I got the shot. Trying to shoot disgusting people beautifully. That’s the job of a sports photographer.


Inter v Milan
10. Last but not least, the Milan derby from last month. Smoke and fog are for some reason rampant in this part of Italy and they create a look that I saw from the previous derby a season ago. For some reason I forgot to take the shot or didn’t really even cross my mind to do so. Once again, I wanted emphasise the minimal amount of lights coming from the flood lights. The red from the electric advertisement board was a lucky accident. Someone won the match, but I don’t remember (Inter did).

Serie A Inter v Milan 22/12/13

There you have it. Most of these shots came to me when I was bored and that says a lot about sports and my attention span. But I firmly do believe my best work is done when I allow myself time to get creative. You will hear from Matt and I about the importance of aesthetic in sports photography when you listen to our next podcast. We do not want you to become one of those people who think the great moment compensates for a shitty picture. It doesn’t. Well, it does if you’re Sports Illustrated.

Let’s make sports photography beautiful (again) in 2014.


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Big Lens Fast Shutter is funded solely from the pockets of Ryu Voelkel and Matt Cohen. If you think the information we give you about sports photography is making you a better sports photographer and as a result a well balanced human being, please show us your appreciation by clicking on the “Donate” button and send some of your hard earned dollars/euros/Brixton pounds our way. People who donate will be mentioned on our next show unless you want to remain anonymous. Thank you for supporting us and may the force of sports photography be with you, always.
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Critical Beatdown #3

Our brand new sports photography portfolio review service CRITICAL BEATDOWN is now up and running with the second episode. This time, Adam Butler is our subject and he has graciously allowed us to share the video.

If you’re interested in your own Critical Beatdown session, get in touch.

*Please Read Below*

Big Lens Fast Shutter is funded solely from the pockets of Ryu Voelkel and Matt Cohen. If you think the information we give you about sports photography is making you a better sports photographer and as a result a well balanced human being, please show us your appreciation by clicking on the “Donate” button and send some of your hard earned dollars/euros/Brixton pounds our way. People who donate will be mentioned on our next show unless you want to remain anonymous. Thank you for supporting us and may the force of sports photography be with you, always.
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Ryu: Shooting amateurs professionally

Hello there. At the airport wondering why people havoing such difficult time with our current You Win: Emotions in sports. It is beyond me that why some of you are so locked in on the action and cannot figure out that the most important thing in sports is the reaction to winning and losing. But that’s for another time, because thinking about it gets me too riled up and I’d rather stay calm. Doctor’s orders.

What I want to discuss today is the difference in shooting amateur and pro sports. I belong to a football team in Berlin and I had the opportunity to shoot my team. At first, I wasn’t too excited to shoot my teammates. Not because I have an aversion towards my own team, but I have an aversion for shooting amateurs. Unlike my Jewish partner, I grew up shooting pro sports. My first sports shoot was pro football in Japan. Big games and big tournaments followed and not an amateur in sight. Poor me.

Could I have gone out of my way to shoot amateurs? Sure. But, shooting amateur athletes in Europe makes me 0 Euros. I had a taste of it in DR shooting Dominican baseball players, but most of it was shot in a professional environment, academies run by MLB teams.

So why amateur now? Since so many of you don’t have access (ie press pass) to shoot pro sports, I’d be doing you disservice if I am not experienced at what you are experiencing. I also was in a bit of a funk after the England v Poland match I shot where I felt my shots were awful. Like terrible. I needed to avenge my poor performance and what better to try something new?

1. Access
I mean, WTF? You can go EVERYWHERE. Changing room, on the pitch, and I can even drink their water bottles.  I’m stunned for those who are shooting sports at this level that you aren’t getting more intimate shots. Some of these athletes are your friends or family members. Get them to react to your presence. Let yourself be the stimulus. And also, get in their grill. Make them uncomfortable. Hell, you are the photographer, you do what you want.

2. Unpredictable
At a higher level, things go according to how things should go. Player A passed the ball to Player B unchallenged. 10 out of 10 times the ball gets to the intended position. But at this level unpredictability rules. Expect the unexpected. In a way, it’s more difficult to shoot amateurs because you have to be ready for everything. Make sure you are on your toes and try to be conservative when predicting the next play.

3. The Ace
Since this is not the Bundesliga or the Prem, inaccuracy is rife. Trapping, passing, dribbling, and shooting. Everything is off. Therefore the player will not hold the ball long enough for you to get a good action shot. Lots of lost balls peppered with lots of headers in the air. Therefore if you want good action shots, follow the ace. In my case, our ace can hold the ball longer than the others (“others” include myself of course), allowing me to get the shots I wanted. But obviously you can’t shoot him all day long and you’ll need to shift your focus to the other players because the last thing you want is tons of picture of your ace and meagre harvest of the others.

4. Experiment
This is your chance to do whatever you want. You want to be right next to the goal, at the feet of the players? You want to be so close that you can hear them breathe? You want to go on the pitch when they celebrate the goal and maybe join them? Okay, the last one is a tad too much, but the others are totally plausible. As long as you are not in their way, get as close to the action. Use a flash. Place cameras in weird places. Shoot the players whilst running. The imagination and refs patience is the only limit. Go crazy.

5. Portfolio
If you are starting out in sports photography, shooting amateurs is the best way to showcase your skill. Besides the blatantly obvious segue into Critical Breakdown, shooting amateur sports will be the key for you to get shots unimaginable in pro sports. Only thing impressive about having images of Lebron, Peyton, Cristiano, or Tiger’s waitress girlfriends is IF the image is interesting. Contrary to popular belief, just having images of superstars isn’t enough to impress your potential employer. But an image of the locker room with kids cowering in fear as the coach gives them the hairdryer? Priceless.

The most difficult thing for me was to detach myself emotionally from the game. Not easy when your teammates are busting their balls out there. But if you want to shoot sports, you have to cut all ties with what’s happening on the pitch and concentrate on getting great shots. Because that’s what a sports photographer should do.

Along the same line, I am now thinking whether I can shoot a match with bare minimum non-pro equipment instead of my usual D4 and the funky bunch. But that will have to wait until my next slump.  :)


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Big Lens Fast Shutter is funded solely from the pockets of Ryu Voelkel and Matt Cohen. If you think the information we give you about sports photography is making you a better sports photographer and as a result a well balanced human being, please show us your appreciation by clicking on the “Donate” button and send some of your hard earned dollars/euros/Brixton pounds our way. People who donate will be mentioned on our next show unless you want to remain anonymous. Thank you for supporting us and may the force of sports photography be with you, always.
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Critical Beatdown: Portfolio Review Service – Awesome

Okay, have a glass of water and take a deep breath. We are going to start a paid service. No bitcoins, but actual money will exchange hands. Which means that you give us money and we provide a service.

God forbid, because everything on the net should be free right? Yes, it should be, but we aren’t music or Breaking Bad or porn. Definitely not porn. We wish we were. We believe what we provide for you is of good quality and we should get paid for it. If you disagree, I’m fine with that because you will continue to get everything we offer for 0 Montenegro Euro. Bet you didn’t know that Montenegro used Euro, did you? Training Ground, You Win, Podcast, and the Flickr boards will continue unscathed by our sudden greed.

We will continue to accept donations because frankly we love money and can never have enough of it. By all means you can make a donation to us more than once. Someone even said that we are a lot cheaper than joining a sports photography class or going to a sports photography boot camp. Therefore, don’t be shy and you should continue to give us donations. We will love you more. Of course we will. :)

What we will be offering starting now is a 100USD portfolio review of your work on video. Let’s break it down. For 100 American dollars, we will review your portfolio. Your portfolio will include no more than 15 images. We will break down the images on youtube. You can choose for this video to be public or private. If it is public, the world will see it. We will also put it up on our site. If it is private, only you will get to see it. We will then tell you the bad, the good, and the improvements you can make.

This accomplishes two things: 1. We get paid 2. You will become a better sports photographer compared to the ones who didn’t pay.

Therefore this is a service for someone who really wants to become a better sports photographer. This is for you who thinks Training Ground is not enough. This is for you who thinks you can do better, but really don’t know how and need specific instructions. This is for you who is unsatisfied with your current progress and need additional something something. This is for you who believes we can help you more.

Pay us and we’ll make you the most desirable sports photographer in the neighbourhood.

Love ya.


PS Need an awesome name for this service. Whomever comes up with the best one will get 20% off when using the service. Once. Not for the rest of your life.

Update: We did. It’s called Critical Beatdown.

*Please Read Below*

Big Lens Fast Shutter is funded solely from the pockets of Ryu Voelkel and Matt Cohen. If you think the information we give you about sports photography is making you a better sports photographer and as a result a well balanced human being, please show us your appreciation by clicking on the “Donate” button and send some of your hard earned dollars/euros/Brixton pounds our way. People who donate will be mentioned on our next show unless you want to remain anonymous. Thank you for supporting us and may the force of sports photography be with you, always.
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