(Gallery updated – for the last time).
Just came to think about something. No big thing, just some quiet self-reflection. No complaints, no whining and absolutely no ranting. Just thinking aloud.
But: I realized that majority of my work could be classified into three different categories.
The image above is routine. Your basic point and shoot. It’s Usain Bolt, that’s enough: this is what people usually expect when they ask me to e.g. shoot a track competition. A good sports image. Images like that you can basically do every couple of minutes; it’s enough you more or less know what you are doing and got the right gear for the job. Quite often my brief is: “Can you shoot this and this and this… and then we will be doing a story on this and this and this…” Sure. No worries. I can do that. If it is at all possible, I can do it – i.e. if two things are not totally overlapping – sure, no worries. But: it’s routine and the results look.. well… routine, too – nothing more.
Then there are good pictures. (I’d call them great but I really cannot call my own work that, can I…? ;-) ) But they are the images which end into your portfolio. Quite often they do not end up printed – as a story of this particular athlete is not on the agenda that day. Like the image below, I don’t think it made it into the print.
Image has to be Blanca Vlasic, you could not make an image like that with Anna Chicherova – she just doesn’t have that presence. Nor does any of the other jumpers.
For this kind of images you have to work quite a lot. At least I have to. Know the athlete, know the sport, pay close attention to the changes of light, background patterns, etc.
In addition, this often involves risks in lens choice, DOF, shutter speed , etc. Quite often you have just one shot and that’s it. No “Blanca, could you do that again, please?” :-)
Big chance that your several hours of work is ruined by the fact that you did not crop/focus accurately. Like in this example it was an educated guess as how much DOF does f8 produce on that distance with an 800mm, which part of the bar is she on when she is in peak action, etc. Finding your position and keeping your peripheral eyes open for people who might walk into your line of fire…
Yes, it is a good image. I goes into my portfolio. But let’s be honest here: it’s more like me showing off as a photographer than telling a journalistic story…
But then there are images which do tell the story. Like the one below.
These should end up into the papers – and big size – but unfortunately they rarely do. This one did, albeit very small. It tells a story – and I’d say more than any words could convey.
Goes without saying that lots of things have to come together for an image like this. Your skill, equipment, right choice of lenses, knowledge of the sport – and the athletes and their routines, etc. You have to be very alert… and then there is the luck factor… which is needed, but only after all the aforementioned “prerequisites” are fulfilled.
But there is one major problem: you – as a reader – have to be able to read that image. And the trouble is: the majority papers (I guess I should say all…) in Finland are done “text first” – i.e text driven and people doing them are not used to the fact that you could just tell the whole story with “just” an image… Image is seen as an illustration element for the story, not as the story itself. So unfortunately, you don’t see images like this so often.
And as a consequence, people are losing their ability to read images… and this in the times when our future looks more visual than ever.
BTW: If you are not familiar with the sport or the protagonists here, they are the two past world champions of javelin (Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway two years ago (in Berlin) and Tero Pitkämäki of Finland four years ago (in Osaka)) – who both definitely did below par in the qualification last night and it is so written on their faces. Thorkildsen made it to the final, but Tero was out in the qualifying.
Anyway, I really meant what I said, i.e. this is not ranting, just something I came to think of today. So consider this as my five cents this afternoon.
Gotta go. Gotta shoot more images. Good ones which tell stories, I hope.
PS. More images in the gallery, if you are interested.