Ryu: Curacao, it’s more than a drink


I’m on my way to Hannover to check out this CEBIT thing with my wife. I won’t get into the specifics of why I’m going to CEBIT or why my wife is annoying me whilst I write this post, but let’s just say that life is good when you get to go and checkout the latest gadgets and geek out for a day. Last year, my partner (sorry Matt, I’ve been unfaithful) and I went to Dominican Republic (DR) to cover baseball there. It was a successful trip as DR won World Baseball Classic and we got enough publications to be interested in our story.

Fast forward to December 2013. I reconvened with my partner in Japan (he’s a real Japanese, unlike myself) and we discussed where to go next. Since Wladmir Balentien broke Sadaharu Oh’s single season home run record and Andruw Jones contributed to the Rakuten Eagle’s championship run, Curacao was hot. I had no idea where it was, but that was where we were heading next. Tickets were booked, interviews were scheduled, shorts and sandals were packed and we arrived on the Caribbean island only to find out that it was carnival week on the island. Long story short, it was an uphill battle to schedule shoots and interviews because people wanted to party and not work. Which is a bit weird because it seemed that everyday life was a party there. Jjust so you are aware and no hard feelings towards me on a Caribbean island in February, I spent a total of 30 minutes on the beach. Therefore the other 10050 minutes were spent doing what I came there to do: shoot baseball.

In the latest podcast which should be dropping (I’m in with the kids) soon, I mentioned that I had to come up with fresh perspective on shooting baseball. The reality is that the after DR, I felt like I have left it all on the field. Needless to say, I was nervous. What if I couldn’t come up with any other way to shoot this sport? If so, would anyone be interested in buying these photos? Would a massive failure here equate to me losing all my clients? Is it over for me as a sports photographer? I kid you not. My doomsday scenario was in full mother fucking effect.

My concern became a nightmare as I stood on a baseball field in Curacao with sweat running down my spine. My mind was racing. What am I supposed to do? What can I do? Then I told myself, “Go. Shoot. Because there’s nothing else you can do.” And I did. At first it felt awkward. After that passed, it felt even more awkward. It only dawned on me that this was not the time to force the issue. Unlike a match, I had time here. Even though I had the carnival eating away at my time on the island, I knew I had time. If I fuck it up today, I still got tomorrow. So I relaxed a tiny bit. Enough for the game to come to me. Then my photos became better. Not on the first day, but from the next day and so forth. I had to just let go of myself a bit and observe. To be slightly calmer than usual. At the end of the trip, I had photos that I was relatively happy with. Not happy happy, because that never happens with me and my photos. Ever.

What did I learn in Curacao? That there is another way to approach sports photography besides my usual way of full panic mode and racing at 194km/h (that’s how fast we are moving now on the train). Although I will not change the way I approach the way I shoot sports, I now know that it’s okay to let some air into the chaos in my brain if it is needed. To wait for the moment to come to me rather than to chase after it like a sailor on the dock after a whore.

Anyway, crisis averted until Cuba in 2015. :)


*Please Read Below*
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