As I have done many times in the past, I’m writing this on my way back from a shoot. This time it was golf at the Evian Masters in France and it has been the toughest shoot I have ever been involved. Not because golf itself is a tough sport. Bunch of people swinging sticks and hitting a small ball whilst having a stroll in a big park doesn’t define toughness. But the act of covering this sport requires endurance, pre-imaing / pre-composing, and of course patience.
When I shoot football, I arrive at the stadium and if there is a photographer’s / press room, I sit there pondering about my effectiveness as a dictator had I been given a chance to rule one of those very small Latin American countries. When I’m relatively certain that making sports photography a noble profession in Ryuistan, I get off my noble ass and head to the pitch. There, I park myself in a spot for 45 minutes and another spot for another 45 minutes. Most other sports I’ve shot, there might be some movement, but not enough to be considered as a movement. More like shifting.
Enter golf and unfit sports photographers not need to apply. You will carry all your equipment, not on your roller bags, but on your shoulders and other available body parts where you can hang stuff from. Then you will racewalk for 6.5 km (4 miles) a day, occasionally stopping to take shots of people playing golf. If you decide to take a shot from behind a player, you will be guaranteeing yourself a nice run to the next shot. All this with your equipment bouncing mercilessly on your body whilst going up and down small mountains on the course itself. Repeat this for 4 days. Don’t forget that you are at the first tee at 7AM for the first group and 7PM at the 18th for the final group. Make sure you add the elements: Sun, rain, hot, wet, and cold. One last thing: Don’t forget your monopod at home like some idiot did this weekend. You will be seeing hells and stars. :)
2. Pre-imaging / Pre-composing
In most sports, you only have 180 degrees of shooting angle. Maybe even less depending on how many neighbours you have with you on the sidelines. This is because you sit in one place and are not allowed to move until the end of the quarter/period/half. In golf, every shot is another period. Obviously there is an abundance of choice in angles, but you have to make your decision as to where you will be shooting immediately after the ball is struck. Therefore it is paramount that you have a basic idea of how you want to compose your next shot whilst you are shooting the current one. To screw with you even more, add the elements of elevation of the course and that burning star high above. They will give you fits and indigestion.
Apparently it’s a virtue and I have none of it. This whole shooting golf business revolves around a lot of hanging out with yourselves and with others. There is a lot of downtime where you will be playing the waiting game. Waiting for the group in front to finish their business, waiting for some weird noise to die down, waiting for people to get out of the way. Whilst you shoot almost non stop at a stadium / indoor sports, in golf your actual shooting time is about 10%. The rest is divvied up between moving, losing the sight of the ball, and waiting. When you have been walking the entire morning while the sun gave you a 3rd degree burn, it’s very easy to lose your concentration. At the end of the day, we’re shooting golf here. But you cannot let it slip as things do happen very quickly at a moments notice. Must be patient and stay concentrated, Daniel san.
All’s said and done, I cannot imagine anything tougher than shooting golf. I’ve never thought a day would come that the act of shooting a sport is more of a sport than the sport that is being shot. Lots of sports there. The 4 days spent cursing at why I wasn’t playing the game of thrones in Ryuistan, instead slogging through mud and grass was nothing short of pure suckiness. But I don’t feel like I figured this whole thing out and I will jump at another opportunity to shoot this boring sport.
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