At the request of various clients, I covered preparations for the soccer teams from Germany and Cameroon on their way to the World Cup in Brazil. I’ll try to share some of those experiences with you.
As a press photographer in Europe, soccer is an important part of my annual photo coverage work, and because this year is the World Cup, there is an even greater demand. So even practice sessions become important stories.
You can imagine that teams from Germany and Cameroon are not quite the same in terms of coverage. The German press room has more than 200 spots, with pre-clearance, rather tight security, a program for the press, etc.
On the Cameroon side, the equipment is lighter, the press conference after the match takes place in the VIP tent, there’s no press room, you can access the players’ hotel…you also have more freedom.
In both cases, there is the same challenge, to take the best possible photos and stay as close to what’s happening with the Teams and with the players as possible.
In soccer, there is a real time constraint involved. Sometimes practice is only open for the first 15 minutes, and the practice session might be taking place far from the area reserved for the media…So, as you can imagine, every second counts. Therefore, it’s really important to organize your equipment the same way every time and anticipate as best you can what’s going to happen, including the arrival of the players, the gestures made by the coach, etc. You’ll also need to think about working differently. There will be 40 photographers taking the same shot, so you might consider taking a bit of distance, pausing for several seconds…and it can be very useful to ask yourself one or two questions. Like, where’s the light coming from? Are there any better angles? After watching the evening news the night before or reading the daily papers, you might learn which player you’ll want to watch, like Khedira who is coming off a win in the final of the Champions League, or Samuel Eto’o who is recovering from a knee injury, etc.
A rock to stand on.
During the Cameroon practice session, you could say that the fencing all around the field made the job a lot more difficult. But, I was in luck. I could stand on top of a rock and take pictures for 45 minutes. Luckily, I had my monopod, and that was useful for both stabilizing my equipment and helping me keep my balance.
Here are some technical tips:
As a general rule, find out who and what you’re going to shoot, what’s the latest news out there about the team? If you’ve got time to attend the press conference, go for it! Make contact with the press agent. Being organized is also very useful. You never know when a photo session or special access may be granted…
A monopod is not something you’re going to want to buy every year, so to start out, if you can, go for a superior model, so it will be lighter (carbon), easier to maneuver…after 4 or 5 years of use, you won’t regret the extra investment…
One of the paradoxes of our times is that as a professional photographer, you’re going to have to work under limitations, and a fan with the latest smartphone will sometimes be closer and more uninhibited, so he can take a video or photo that you would not have the right to take. On this topic, Manfrotto offers some very useful strategies to support and achieve the right lighting with mobile phones
There you have it: having had the chance to photograph preparations for a truly planetary event, and get a taste of what the atmosphere promises to be like in Brazil will be a lifelong memory for me, most especially one that is preserved in photographs.
My equipment for covering soccer. Weight and transportation convenience as well as ease of organization are the essential points I’m looking for, and I find them in the Manfrotto line of products.
I work with: 2 pro Canon devices, one wide angle, one 70 – 200 mm and a 2.8 300 or 400 prime lens, a flash…a Pro Light Camera Backpack: Bumblebee-220 PL or Professional Backpack 30 – 50, a Roller bag 70 suitcase with wheels,
a 4 section 294 Carbon Fiber Monopod, gear to protect against the rain and cold,
a stool, an Ezyview protective cover for your mobile device