Ryu: Saving private Spot

As is the case with almost all my posts, I’m writing this when I’m bored to tears. I’m kidding. Kind of. But I do think about you when I write about it so there is still some hope between you and me. I’m at Oberstdorf shooting the Nebelhorn Trophy. That’s figure skating to you and me. It’s exciting, but the level here is so low that I’m waiting for the big guns to show up. And that’s like at 23:10 tonight. I’d like to say I’m kidding, but I’m not.

Matt and I have already wrote quite a lot about sports photography in our past posts and frankly we are running out of big ideas to write about. We definitely don’t want to go the Hollywood route and start posting remakes and sequels of our previous posts. Instead, we will continue to write posts, albeit in smaller packages. Like tips. When we have something big to say, like when Matt gets all crazy eyed talking about a certain organisation, we will write a big one. But from here on out, we will give you nibbles on sports photography.

One thing I learned very quickly is that when shooting sports, positioning is everything. What you also need to understand is that these positions are only yours if you claim it. You can sit there until the game starts, but what to do when you want to move around to shoot warm-ups? Or when you want to shoot them coming onto the field? What most of us do is to leave something at the spot. Some opt for a monopod, some a stool, and some duct tapes with your name on it. A lot of Japanese sports photographers do the tape thing, I think it’s a cultural thing. As for me, I usually go with the stool. For a simple reason that I use the monopod to shoot and I can’t just leave it there to secure a spot.

If you really really want to get a specific spot on the pitch or floor or whatever playing surface you will be shooting that day, get there early. My colleague who shoots Real Madrid frequently gets to the stadium 3 hours before the match. On big match days like the Classico, he’s there 6 hours before kick off. Excessive? Most definitely, but he’s certain to claim the spot.

Lastly, getting your spot on is the first thing you should do when you arrive at a sporting event. Get your accreditation, get your bib, claim your spot. Then do whatever you have to do. Early sports photographer claims the spot. So says my mother.


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One thought on “Ryu: Saving private Spot

  1. Ryu,

    I agree that getting to the event way ahead of the start time is crucial. I shoot MLL (Major League Lacrosse) for Inside Lacrosse Magazine here in Denver. I mainly cover the Outlaws but depending on where I might be during the week/month I might cover other teams if I am in their neck of the woods.

    So before each game I will make sure to get there long before the start because I want to check the “injury reports”. Especially if there is a specific player that my editor wants me to cover and if they are playing…or not.

    There are only about 3-4 shooters covering the games at the moment and we all know each other so it’s not like we are “jockeying for position” to get the best shot. A lot of the time I also get here because in pre game you can get the players for both teams screwing around (most of them have gone to the same college or rival colleges so they can be friendly before the games).

    But it also comes down to making sure my gear works just like a pilot does before a flight where he/she goes out and does a flight check of the equipment.

    It also depends on the weather at times because of which “protective” gear I might need to bring along. If it’s raining it takes longer to prepare my gear covers because they can be a little restrictive going from portrait to landscape shots when I am shooting.


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