As you wait for the new episode of BLFS, which shouldn’t be long, here is another Four + 1. Sixth time, it’s Phil Oldham from Manchester. Our paths crossed in Gdansk, Poland, a popular place for meeting sports photographers. We just finished shooting a match and we were both looking to get back to the city centre. Little did we know that there was no public transportation back to civilisation after 9PM in Poland. So we talked and walked until we realise there actually was a bus back to town. He’s a born and bred Mancunian and he’s a sports photographer as well as a nice dude. Just so you know, he just finished his thing at the Grand National and now he is a bit tired.
If you want to see more Phil, check out this site: http://www.purpleclouds.co.uk/
1. How did you start shooting sports photography and what is your bread and butter sport?
I was working in a studio in Manchester doing your family portraits and the like, when the guy who owned it asked if I fancied lending a hand by photographing some youth karate over a weekend. I didn’t have anything on and thought it’d be a change, so agreed. I haven’t looked back since! My bread and butter sport, living in the north of England is football (or soccer if you’re funny!). Though depending on the time of year I also do plenty of rugby league, rugby union and cricket.
2. What is something that you think is really obvious now that took you a long time to get?
The best pictures aren’t always the sharpest, nor the ones with the best bokeh. The best pictures are the ones that tell a story. I always strive for quality, but in a media scrum at a cup final or relegation battle content rules.
3. Funniest / Strangest story from one of your shoots?
Every day has it’s own story, though one always stands out in my mind. British Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington had just pretty much secured her place in the squad for the 2012 games and I had ran to send pictures of the race, not realising that they were skipping straight to the medal ceremony. I overheard the announcement on the PA system and ran back poolside. I arrived a little flustered and out of breath to be greeted by her saying to me in front of numerous colleagues, “oh, thank you for showing up!” We had a laugh about it but it was quite embarrassing!
4. Advices to the kids (or a mid life crisis sufferer) who are aspiring to become a sports photographer?
Start small. Too many people in Britain buy all the gear yet have no idea! Shoot local teams, local sports. When you feel confident enough try and sell pictures to your local publications.. it will be hard work in these tough financial times but if you can’t earn some cash with little to no competition then you won’t have much chance at the top. Being a photographer is as much about the business as it as about taking pictures and it’s important to learn that from day one. From there, just keep on snapping and as the saying goes, the cream always rises to the top!
+1 Curry or football. What is more popular in Manchester and why?
Curry unites our beautiful city and football deeply divides it! As to which is more popular.. well, you can’t go to a match without something spicy afterwards to debate the days events over! Since Sheikh Mansour bought Manchester City, football has definitely taken precedence as they compete with Manchester United on a more even footing. This season has seen them playing cat and mouse in the chase for the Premier League title and it looks like it will go down to the big Manchester derby at the end of the season. That ninety minutes alone has had fans arguing since the season’s start last August!
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