Part 2: All around
For the second article dedicated to urban sports, we’re going to head into the crowd. Among the thick of the throngs and lines, you’ll find an incredible source of inspiration.
If the sports fields and finish lines are filled to the brim with specialized professional photographers who are manned with the latest cameras and lenses dedicated to sports photography, there are still places where you can find a spot and where you won’t have to cope with aggressive competitors.
Because in fact, you won’t have any competition to fight at all! If you’re used to moving through urban environments and if your photographic instincts don’t lend themselves naturally to sports journalism, it will be a lot more enjoyable to think of the event as a lambda gathering.
From this starting point, the event will become much more open to your amateur perspective and lots of scenes will be open to you.
Before you get started, you’ll want to take stock of the equipment at your disposal. There are several essential factors you’ll need to consider:
– Authorizations: in a number of cases, private spaces limit the entry of people carrying camera equipment that is too bulky. I can assure you that getting turned away at the entrance to an event when you can already feel the effervescence and when you’ve already bought the ticket, you feel like you did as a pathetic teenager who couldn’t talk his way into the discotheque.
– The masses: this criteria is also to be taken account of within the area you’re scoping out, and it’s essential to be able to move around easily while you enjoy plenty of technical liberty for your shots.
If you should end up in a situation where security personnel or the crowd keep you from following your every desire, I would recommend that you arm yourself with a compact camera with a fixed lens like a Fuji X100. Because it is not at all bulky and it has a vintage look you’ll be able to move around unnoticed while still using a high-quality piece of equipment.
If you want more freedom in creating your shots and a simpler time with your equipment, a wide range camera with a 24-70 and/or 70/200 zoom will be just the ticket.
If your budget allows, the combination of these pieces will give you total liberty, even if a poorly chosen backpack might at some point put a halt to your movements.
Once you’ve got your equipment, you’ll need to tend equally to the scouting phase. You can never give yourself too much time to get the best shots. In my eyes it’s indispensable to look around the event space and its surroundings over several long minutes so you can find the best vantage for long-distance shots. To get a feel for the ambiance in the air, it is better to conduct these observations with your hands bare. So then you’ll be less tempted to go right for the visor, and instead you’ll take the time to discover the particular characteristics of the place or those that are inherent in the sport concerned. A little reserve is essential just like for any report because immersing yourself in a universe that’s unfamiliar can lead you to focus on actions that have little sports or aesthetic appeal.
In the exact same spirit as the previous notion, a fresh eye will be your best tool throughout the first minutes of the shoot. The innocence of your perspective on the events going on around you will push you to uncover scenes that are often full of emotion, but your judgment will also keep from becoming too taxed by the general energy of the spectacle.
The series presented here was done during the arrival stage at the 100th Tour de France in 2013. Every year, the historic center of Paris is totally paralyzed by the racers passing by, but there’s also an enormous crowd that comes to see this popular event. You’ll see Parisians, tourists, and cycling enthusiasts who meet in this magical scene, so often bathed in the bright light of the season.