Before we start, I need to advertise myself.
Please checkout the June 2011 (latest) issue of Digital SLR Photography at your local dead tree stores. Albeit not massive, I’m on it. :)
Just recently (like last week), I was in Barcelona shooting the Euroleague Final Four. It’s supposed to be professional basketball, but played mostly by Europeans. What they lack in physical ability and pizzazz (what a word) compared to their counterpart across the Atlantic, they make it up with one of the best atmosphere ever to be created by fans in a sporting event. You have to see it to believe it.
Anyhow, I was there shooting mostly white dudes playing ball and sat next to several photographers who were obviously shooting exclusively the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team. Sadly, they were more interested in how their team was performing rather than photographing what was going on the floor. Suffice to say, I have a bigger than average problem with this.
It’s quite common to see amateur photographers at sporting events sitting next to professionals. I for one think this is a great way of introducing amateurs who would like a chance to shoot professional athletes so to gauge if this is a profession they would consider getting themselves into. But some people are not too happy with a notion that amateurs are allowed to shoot alongside professionals.
Case in point: Fat and lousy middle aged photographers v Scott Kelby, recounted by Thorpe G.
“Ok basically, there is a famous US photog named Scott Kelby. You may or may not have heard of him, he does a lot of training and writes photography books. This past summer he held a contest for amateur photogs to submit their best sports photo. The winner would win the chance to work as an assistant to another pro sports photo on the sidelines of a big Division 1 college football game. And get to shoot a little and learn for one amazing day. Well, a winner was selected and as soon as it was announced a large group of pro sport photographers through a huge fight about it. They ended up pressuring the division 1 school to revoke the contest winners field pass. Their claim was that by having an amateur on the field, he would be in the way and it was too dangerous. Which I think is a load of crap. I visited the forums and website of this group (sportsshooter.com) and read the things they were saying. It actually came down to many of them being very angry an amateur photog would get this opportunity without “earning” his way up to it. Even though he was just working one game! ”
Jealous and narrow minded photographers who only care about themselves. Great. I’m ashamed that I’m roped into the same profession as they are and it’s pitiful. Honestly, I hope these people realise that they also were given a chance by their seniors when they could barely change their own adult diapers.
But I digress a bit. The point is that young amateurs should be given all the chance to shoot alongside the pros IF they have the right intentions. Most of the amateurs at a professional sporting event are not honing their skills. Rather they are busy shooting their favourite team/player because nothing good is on the tele. That’s nice, but if Mr. Smith, a Liverpool fan who’s got the connect with the organisation and has been coming to Anfield for donkey’s years is there, why can’t an aspiring amateur sports photographer take his place instead?
Being a fan of a team or a player is fine. I love basketball and would love a chance to shoot alongside my Mormon comrades in Salt Lake City. By the way, I’m not Mormon, in case you were really wondering. But when I’m shooting Blake Griffin posterising the opposition, all my nerves in my body are soldered onto my photography side of the brain and not the fan side of it. I am fully aware that I am there to capture the moment and not there to clap and cheer. That’s not what I’m paid to do. Our first interviewee, Kenny Ramsay is a massive Man U fan, but I have never seen him show any of sign of Red Devil love when he was shooting Man U matches. We are there as sports photographers and not busy tweeting because it’s cool to be so close to the players whilst not paying anything to get the best seat in the house.
So, if you are considering sports photography as something you want to do professionally, my arms are wide open. Even if you don’t want to do it professionally and you are passionate about sports photography, you’re my insta-friend. Come on in, let’s break bread and take Koola-Aid shots. But make sure you check your fan side of the brain at the gate, because if you can’t, you don’t deserve to be there.
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