It’s the day of the final. I was planning to write before today, but I’ve been inundated with jet lag, traveling and permanent sleepiness that I just couldn’t do it. Sorry. I hang my head in shame.
Almost forgot the most important thing on this trip. Claudio Franco from http://www.claudiofrancofoto.com/ who has been a keen participant in BLFS has been a thick of beam of light for me in Rio. He and his family gave me shelter, food, and even some clothing because I had no clean clothes to wear. Without their assistance, I would have ended up in some gutter in the favelas. So, muito obrigado Claudio.
As I have promised, below is the seldom told, un-sexy side of a sports photographer’s life during a major tournament.
Unlike normal matches, tournament requires you to get a general accreditation. This will get you into the media centre and ride from the media bus (more on that later), but will not get you into the match. You will also be given a beautiful bib and this time it was orange. Sexy stuff. You’ll need both in order to shoot a match, but these are not enough to get into the match.
This is where the confusion, frustration, and “WTF?” comes into play. You’ll first need to apply for a media ticket which will in turn allow you to shoot a specific match. For example, I’ve applied for Japan v Mexico and I got in because the only people who were interested were the Japanese and Mexican press. On the other hand, Brazil v Japan might have been more difficult, because A) all the local press wanted a piece of this action B) It’s Brasil. Therefore some might have gotten the “Sorry” email from FIFA.
Once you get the “Hell yes, come on down brother!” email, you go into the media centre of the stadium and to the photographer’s media ticketing. There you are given an enviable task of choosing where you want to sit. Unlike club matches where you can sit wherever you want, you’ll be assigned a place and you will sit there for the duration of the match. If you want to shoot the same team both halves, you’ll need to do some back door deals with another photographer in order to swap seats at half time.
I said that you can “choose” your seat, but that depends on which stadium you are. At Belo Horizonte, we were allowed to choose a section of a stadium. Home goal, Away goal, Home touchline, and Away touchline. Like this.
You are then told to pick a card from a stack of cards which are faced down. The card will have a number which will correspond to your seat in that section.
This “playing card” method seemed to be the most popular with the photographers around me. The worst method was the no choice method which was in Fortaleza. When you arrive at media ticketing, they already give you an envelope with your name on it. You open it and voila, a card with a seat number. No choosing here and that sucks balls.
Match itself is like any other match with one caveat of your gear having a much higher chance of getting stolen. There has already been many cases of gears growing feet and wandering off, never to be seen again. Apparently there are dishonest paid and non-paid workers as well as other photographers who think taking someone else’s gear is an appropriate thing to do.
There are two media hotels at every city that will take you straight to the stadium. If you are crazy enough to take taxi or public transport to get to the stadium, you will be dropped off about 239km away from the stadium. This is due to security and not due to the protest currently going on all over Brasil. You will need to carry your gear and yourself through suicide inducing heat to get to the stadium. If you take the media bus, it will drop you off right at the door of the stadium. Voila.
Let’s talk about that. At this moment, 15:30 30th of June 2013, none of my pictures have been used in any paid medium. Frankly this also sucks balls. I cannot fathom the thought of coming home with less than what I left Berlin with. Some images have already been sent to Magazine A and I’m waiting for their answer. Magazine B decided not to go with my pictures, but are asking for pictures from the final. Client A has given me a possibility of an assignment given a victory of a certain side. Client B might use some images, but not sure. Scary, right? Unfortunately, this is a reality for most freelance sports photographers. We sometimes have to shoot on spec and hope that someone will buy our photos and consequently save our lives.
Time is ticking now and in 6 hours I’ll be packing everything and going back to Claudio’s place for the last time.
The final episode will be with you shortly… after the break.
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