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Podcast: Episode 48 – “Season of disagreements”

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Podcast: Episode 48 – “Season of disagreements”

Listen and download links here:

– Subscribe and listen via iTunes (We’ve re-published our audio feed, but you may need to unsubscribe and resubscribe)
– Get RSS feed
– Get MP3 (Click to listen or right click to save it to your computer)

News

Matt gets his ladder stolen and Ryu watched Mad Max.  One of these is related to sports photography.  Please make an educated guess.

Masterclass 

Planning ahead for a days shoot, when your base (media/press room) is very very very far away.   Matt and Ryu discuss the ways to navigate a NASCAR or golf courses whilst keeping in mind that going back to the media room will be a career death sentence. No child was maimed during the recording of this show.

Training Ground

Training Ground is now on video. If you’d like to participate (and we think you should), enter your pictures in the Flickr thread and make sure to tag them BLFSTG201504.

Training Ground will now be split off from the podcast and will run approximately two weeks after we air the podcast.

You Win

Getting better, but still no winners.  If we were a lottery, the jackpot will be enormous by now.  Find out if your slightly above average photos were worthy of a discussion here

Cross-Counter

Triple crown winner and get a closer look at American Pharaoh or Phraoh or Pharell.

Special thanks to…

Our producer Robb Massar
Icon by Arvin Bautista

*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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Podcast: Episode 47 – Turning to the blurry dark side

Amelie Rivat (FRA/Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86) up the infamous Mur de Huy (1300m/9.8%)

FlËche Wallonne FÈminine 2015

Podcast: Episode 47 – “Turning to the blurry dark side”

Listen and download links here:

– Subscribe and listen via iTunes (We’ve re-published our audio feed, but you may need to unsubscribe and resubscribe)
– Get RSS feed
– Get MP3 (Click to listen or right click to save it to your computer)

News

Matt suddenly realises that he’s been lazy with trying out new techniques and Ryu takes Snapchat for a lengthy walk.  They both realise that being stagnant and complacent does not make you a good sports photographer.  Unless you want to be that guy.  You know.  That guy.

Masterclass 

High ISO.  You can use a flash, you can use a slower shutter speed, and you can just go home because it’s difficult to see the ball when it’s pitch black inside the gym.

Training Ground

Training Ground is now on video. If you’d like to participate (and we think you should), enter your pictures in the Flickr thread and make sure to tag them BLFSTG201504.

Training Ground will now be split off from the podcast and will run approximately two weeks after we air the podcast.

You Win

Better.  Not as disastrous as the previous month.  But obviously people are not stepping up their game.  Which makes us feel suicidal.  But we have no such tendencies.  Here you can find the sub-par entries.

Cross-Counter

Both Matt and Ryu go cycling.  Ryu finds his photo from this link and Matt from here.

Special thanks to…

Our producer Robb Massar
Icon by Arvin Bautista

*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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Podcast: Episode 46 – Our producer expects the unexpected

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Podcast: Episode 46 – “Our producer expects the unexpected”

Listen and download links here:

– Subscribe and listen via iTunes (We’ve re-published our audio feed, but you may need to unsubscribe and resubscribe)
– Get RSS feed
– Get MP3 (Click to listen or right click to save it to your computer)

News

Matt wishes all the people who came up with the hockey stadium series should be dead.  Ryu wishes Cuba never existed, even though shooting baseball there was good.  Skill Twins.  No, he didn’t shoot the video.

Master Class

Expect the unexpected. When you arrive at a stadium for your whatever sports shoot, you may have lofty expectations of your day. It’s important that if these expectations are not met, you adjust on the fly. Marty.

Training Ground
Training Ground is now on video. If you’d like to participate (and we think you should), enter your pictures in the Flickr thread and make sure to tag them BLFSTG201503.

Training Ground will now be split off from the podcast and will run approximately two weeks after we air the podcast.

You Win

I think every one of you should listen to this You Win. Just because you need to give us a reason why we should have to put up with your unapologetically sorry-ass entries.  We want stuff like the featured image on this blog post by Uwe Zucci/EPA.  Please.

Cross-Counter

Both Matt and Ryu go skiing.  Powder power.

Special thanks to…

Our producer Robb Massar
Icon by Arvin Bautista

*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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Podcast: Episode 45 – More reasons to hate Messi

Podcast: Episode 45 – “More reasons to hate Messi”

Listen and download links here:

– Subscribe and listen via iTunes (We’ve re-published our audio feed, but you may need to unsubscribe and resubscribe. Technology is fun!)
– Get RSS feed
– Get MP3 (Click to listen or right click to save it to your computer)

News

Matt talks about shooting high school kids and before you pick up the phone to call the authorities, he was there for his ongoing “Under the Brim” project.  Ryu talks about something he can’t talk about, but now he can.  Skill Twins.  No, he didn’t shoot the video.

Master Class

Effort v Results.  Just because you try hard doesn’t mean your photo is worth something.  Listen to us tell you that your blood and sweat do not guarantee an entry into the BLFS heaven.

Training Ground
Training Ground is now on video. If you’d like to participate (and we think you should), enter your pictures in the Flickr thread and make sure to tag them BLFSTG201502.

Training Ground will now be split off from the podcast, and will run approximately two weeks after the podcast.

You Win

Well well well.  It’s our first ever new format You Win and we had a disagreement on who should be crowned the best of January 2015.  Just because we can, you should listen to find out who won.  Because honestly, we like surprises.

Cross-Counter

Matt goes golf and Ryu goes WTF, Business Insider? (Jelena Jankovic).  And we also don’t understand why World Press Photo 1st place singles award went to this average photo, 2nd place went to this great moment≠not so good photo, and let’s not talk about this catastrophe that is the 3rd place.  As for the story category, this one is sublime and this one is not a story and not good.

Special thanks to…
Our producer Robb Massar
Icon by Arvin Bautista

*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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Get ’em young I say, get ’em young!

Matt and I, we both get occasional emails asking us how to grow a nice moustache.  Strange, yes as Matt has the worst moustache I’ve ever seen on a human being.   But even more occasionally, we get asked how one becomes a sports photographer.  In most cases we tell people to go through the entire library of BLFS first and if we haven’t answered your question by the time you’ve listened to them all, only then come and ask us for our advice.  We firmly believe that after 50 episodes of BLFS and our blog posts, there is enough information for you to decide whether or not becoming a sports photographer is actually not a stupid idea.

But sometimes we get questions that require us to actually write a blog post about it.  About a week ago, my friend NL (he’s not Dutch, but to protect his identity, I’ve cleverly came up with this acronym) who is 12 years of age, asked me how he can become a sports photographer.  Just so people don’t start speed dialling their local authorities, NL and I met about 2 years ago at my friend’s wedding which I was shooting, of course.  An intelligent chap and we’ve kept in touch since.  I don’t think I have had any influence on him wanting to become a sports photographer, but he sounded serious enough.  So maybe he’s the odd one here.  What was interesting about his question is that he wanted to know which classes should he take at school to help him become a sports photographer.  Interesting.  I then asked him to give me the list of classes available at the moment.  They are as follows:

Art
PE (Gym for some)
History
Music
Science
French
Modern Studies
Geography
Home Economics
Technical

I.T.

Therefore if you are an aspiring sports photographer between the ages of 10-12, here are the classes Ryu tells you to take:

Art

I think this is a no brainer.  What we teach at BLFS is for you to come up with your own distinct style.  We don’t want you to become a cookie cutter sports photographer.  The only way you can do is to look at other people’s work, but in a much broader sense.  If you have been paying a bit of an attention to the world around you, photography is not the only art form out there.  Painting, sculpting, dance, music, video, fashion, whatever.  Art is sometimes unnecessarily everywhere.  I’m assuming this “Art” class will concentrate on a traditional definition of art so painting, sculpting, installations, and other fun things like art history.  As a sports photographer, to have interest in other forms of art is very important.  You don’t know where your next inspiration can come from.  Looking at beautiful things and learning the process behind it will help you through your creative processl.  So yes to art and try not to fall asleep when you’re forced to remember when van Gogh detached his ear off his face.

PE

I called it PE in my school as well, so we are cool.  In this profession, you need to be fit.  So definitely yes to PE.  Because in some cases you have to run to your shooting location ahead of the others.  It’s usually first come first served so you should even start raining by running with 20kg of gear on you.  If you don’t have that much gear near you, carry your classmate around your neck and run around.  That might help.  In any case, keep fit and strong.  Exhaustion in any form will ruin any concentration and you’ll need plenty of it during the course of a match.

History

I’m not into history much, even if it involves art and dinosaurs.  But this is about whether this class will help him with his pursuit of a career in sports photography.  I say no.  I don’t remember a single moment when I thought “God damn it, had I known the day Berlin wall fell, I’d have shot that football match better”.  Therefore, no.  But in general you should know a bit of history.  Says my wife.

Music

Same as Art.  Music can inspire you, unless you don’t like music.  Which is fine.

Science

If we lived in an age of BW photography and you needed to know the chemical reactions that occur in a developing bath then yes.  It’s better to know these things because when you do, you can become a mad scientist in the dark room. But we live in the 21st century and I have feeling that most schools don’t even have a dark room. I don’t think quantum physics and molecular biology will help you come up with a better composition and lighting for the coming cricket match.  Unless someone comes up with cell football.

French

My wife will say yes (she’s French) and surprisingly I’ll say yes as well.  Not necessarily French, but learning another language.  If you are not a dumb American, Australian, or Anglo-Saxon, you need to learn how to speak another language.  This is to prevent you from being ridiculed when you leave your country.   The reason is that if you want to become a sports photographer, it will be very helpful if you have good communication skills.  I don’t want you to just end up shooting in your own country, but to travel around the word shooting sumo and sepak takraw and jai alai.  You should aspire to become an international sports photographer.  Therefore if you can blag your way around in Spanish, French, or whatever, you’ll be that much better than the other monolingual sports photographers.  Combine that with charm, you’ll get into places no other sports photographers dare try.  Since so much of sports photography hinges on location, if you can sweet talk a Belorussian security guard into getting a position where you are normally not allowed to, you’re golden.

Modern Studies

I have no idea what this class entails.  I guess you talk about modern things.  But for some reason, it will probably be much less important than math, which is conveniently lacking from this list.  Most of photography is based on math.  So you should definitely take it.  No, you don’t need to have AP-Calculus under your belt to get a better angle on your remote cam at a high school basketball game, but you need to know basic math.

Okay, just googled it.  This is a class very specific to schools in Scotland.  From what I’ve read on wikipedia, no, you don’t really need it to become a sports photographer.  But if you’re a Scot and in need of separation from those pesky English at some point in your life time, then yes.

Geography

Yes.  At the very least you should know where 90% of the countries in this world is located and whether how many transportation options are there for you to travel from Barcelona to Madrid (Answer: 4 bus, train, car, and plane).  If you do not know where your own state is located (hint hint Americans), it’s bad.  I overheard a conversation last night with an American trying to describe to a Madridista where he is from. “Yes, I live hour and a half from Buffalo”.  As if someone in Madrid knows any other cities in USA besides New York and LA.  By learning about each country in a geographical sense, you won’t be caught wearing a down jacket and leggings boarding on a flight to the Australian Open.

Home Economics

I’ve never taken one, but I’m assuming you make things, right? Unless you are going to start your kickstarter campaign to fund a underwater housing for your Polaroid camera, I wouldn’t bother.  Some people like to concoct things on their own to make their job easier like that guy who invented the monopod socket to put an umbrella or that guy who invented a monopod socket to put a tray for your laptop.  To date I have not invented a single gadget to help me with my sports photography.  Maybe I should.

Technical

I have no idea what this is.  I’m assuming it’s something technical which makes me think it’s the same as Home Economics.  Which means NL wrote it down twice or I’m too stupid that I have no idea what this is.  I first thought about basketball when I read it.

I.T.

Oh come on now.  It’s 2015 and you still have I.T.?  I mean, that shit should be in your life by now.  Unless you are so shit at using computers or anything with dials and knobs, you should take it.  But then, who uses dials and knobs now?  Okay, forget it.  Don’t take it.

There you have it NL.  I’ve made my recommendations.  In the future, take a business class.  Remember that if you want to become a professional sports photographer, treat it like a business, not like a hobby.  But if you want to do it as a hobby,

treated as a hobby.  And a photography course?  Definitely yes.  If it wasn’t for the photography courses I took in high school, I wouldn’t be here right now.  I also hope that you will be able to process BW film.  Because that shit is magic.  I’m not guaranteeing that you are well on your way to become a rockstar sports photographer after taking these courses, but at least these classes will put you on the track to a better sports photography life.  And I’m definitely not guaranteeing that you will be popular with the ladies if you ever become one, but you know that already. :)

Ryu

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*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: Top 10 of 2014

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Happy new year.

First of all, I’m really sorry about people not receiving my pinkest book ever “No Hands”. For some reason (I do have my suspicions), the delivery is taking a very long time.  I really apologize for it.  Most of Europe has received it and hopefully the goodness will reach out across the pond to the Americas and across Siberia to Asia.

Second, blog posts.  I must admit that from my end, there isn’t much more to write about in terms of sports photography.  Don’t get me wrong.  We have enough topic to discuss about it on the podcast, but perhaps not write about it to the extent we have been writing all these years.  That doesn’t mean we won’t have anymore blog posts, but most likely only for special occasions.

Which brings us to the third and final point which is the top 10 of 2014.  I thought about it and looked at my results from last year.  All I can say is, “Well, I tried”.  Trying isn’t good enough.  Matt and I said that if effort added value to the quality of your photo, more people would have graduated from BLFS long time ago.  But alas that is not the world we live in.  My work from 2014 reflects just that.  I tried, but I didn’t succeed in some cases.  Sad, but that is the reality of sports photography.  You have to fail first to at least get a chance to create something unique and great in the future.  I hope to redeem myself in 2015 with what I’ve learned in 2014.

Chess Boxing
It was my first attempt at shooting chess boxing and as you can see from the result, it’s a step in the right direction, but there is much work to be done.  The point here is to shoot chess boxing and not to shoot boxing.  When it comes to a sport which isn’t a major sport (yes, football counts as one), your photos need to who what it is all about.  Maybe not all of it, but at least a glimpse of it.   To include an element of chess into every single boxing image was not an easy one, but in the end I sort of kind of got it.  But I feel as though this is a sport that I will revisit more in the future as I don’t think I have exhausted all the shooting possibilities.
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PSG v Barcelona
Lomography lent me a Petzval lens and I used it.  I HATE manual focus and I LOVE auto focus.  I have no idea how my predecessors faired without auto focus.  I really don’t. I digress.  I used one of the aperture blades that had stars on it as that gave it the starry feeling.  The bokeh on this one is interesting, but every condition has to be met for you to achieve one.  I’m always looking out for an interesting lens, so let me know if you know any.
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Standard v Panathinaikos
I’m going to keep on losing my Greek fan base as I continue to complain about how to spell Pantahanaikos.  Or Panthanaiakos or whatever.  Anyway, I went to this match for an assignment and came away with an image I was fairly happy with.  Since I’m not a good action photographer (really, I’m not), I rarely pay attention to the action scenes.  Nor do I put much effort into taking one.  But this one I got lucky as I was shooting the goalie and I was equally lucky he jumped the way he did.
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Germany v Ghana
Yes, the world cup.  I am finally starting to miss my adventures there because before it was nothing but one month of continuous “No, not another match…”.  But I do want to talk about the fact that this light business is something I really got into last year.  Due to our shit long winter, most football in Europe is played in perpetual darkness with flood lights.  Seldom do we get to play with lights.  But fortunately, most of the world cup happened during the day and that gave me an excuse to do what I wanted to do with lights.  I had no idea Lahm would call it an international career after 2014, but I got the El Capitain in this light.  Just so you know, if you want to get an image like this, you’ll need to make sure that the ray of light is only hitting that particular area and that you underexpose it to a point that everything else fades to black.
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Chelsea v PSG
I have obsessions.  Thank god it hasn’t led me to any jail time.  Yet.  Mourinho is one of my obsessions and I’m glad I got this image, because to me he’s a well coiffed man with a notepad and a pen.  Always.
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Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim
Or anything multiple exposure.  I still haven’t figured out a great way to use this technique, but it’s kind of going somewhere.  Where exactly I don’t know, but it’s going somewhere interesting.
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Holland v Costa Rica
Penalty shootouts are very rare during a normal football season.  I was overjoyed and overrun with emotions as I got to shoot more than enough extra time matches to last me until the next world cup.  I basically shot 2 extra matches when combining all the extra time.  Honestly, WTF.  There are many ways to shoot penalties and the most interesting bit is at the end.  Because, you know, someone wins and someone loses.  I decided to blur this one as the orange was strong enough to show the jubilation against the disappointed Costa Ricans sitting still and miserable.
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Baseball in Curacao
If you must know, I’m typing all this with my newly born daughter stretched over each of my wrists as she dreams of Ronaldo and some Hollywood actor who’s hot for being hot.  No, she’s never going to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. New father obsessions aside, my annual trip to the baseball nations in the Caribbean took me to Curacao last year.  It was fun.  It always is.  And very educational.  And hot.  Will keep it rolling in 2015 as well.  This year? Somewhere I’ve been dying to go for a long time…
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Sassuolo v Milan
Lights lights lights.  Someone once told me that the general rule of thumb for photography is to shoot into the light and not away from it.  I agree.  Backlit lights are always beautiful.  I also think Japanese football is going down the drain.   This image and others on this top 10 are good examples of images that will not be used in most publications. But they will get you noticed.  Why?  Because they are different.   It’s a bit of a catch 22.  If you want to break into this business, you have to shoot in a horrendously boring fashion.  But then you will not get noticed because you and the other 1 pillion other sports photographers have shot the exact same image.  My advice?  Always be different.  Even if it won’t get you that first job, it will give you a better chance of landing a much much better job that is not your first job.  So maybe a second or a third one.
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Manchester City v Barcelona
The dark side of Messi. If I ever become the official photographer of said wee man, I would like to shoot him as a villain.  I think he has more villainous quality than a superhero one.  Yes, that’s a compliment because my favourite Star Wars character is Darth Vader.  Here I played with the light again and underexposed it to the point that you can’t see his face anymore.  Dark Messi.
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Arsenal v Spurs
Details.  The more details you can capture in a scene, the more it will draw you into the image.  The smallest of details, when captured interestingly, will forever be more interesting than a goal scoring scene.  Trust me.  Here, I saw a bird and I wanted the bird.  But not just the bird, but a bird with someone in the background.  Remember, you always need at least 2 interesting things in your image for it to be actually interesting.
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Somewhere in Rio
One of my favourite images from the world cup in Brazil.  I think my goal from this world cup was to capture the everyday football life of a Brazilian.  And I believe this one did the job.  My only regret is that I didn’t get to shoot enough everyday stuff in Brazil.  There were matches I shot which I can now safely admit that it wasn’t worth my time, but they had to be shot because I was there to shoot matches.  Sigh.  For future world cups, I might shoot less matches and concentrate more on the everyday football people.  Good god I miss Brazil.
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Aerochrome
I think I didn’t quite master it.  I like the image here, but it feels like it’s a work in progress.  I went to Brazil with about 15 rolls of Aerochrome and I only shot 8 of them. Not good.  I should have shot more.  But for some reason I didn’t.  Part of me wanted to play it safe and part of me thought I needed to conserve the film for future use in the tournament.  If I was only shooting film in Brazil, I wouldn’t have had this problem, but when you mix 2 mediums, you tend to favor
one over the other.
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That’s it.  It’s definitely more than 10, but hey, it’s 2015.  I have no idea what the meant, but here’s to all the BLFS people for their continued support and further advancement in your sports photography skills.
Ryu

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.

Traveling
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 Couchsurfing.com. 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…

Access
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.

Language
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.

Gear
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.

Backup
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.

Clients
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 (www.ryuxrio.com). 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 www.ryuxrio.com. 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
worldcupblfs


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