HOW HARD IS IT TO BE A SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHER?

SHORT AN­SWER – VERY. WHEN ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE GIANTS ARSENAL FC WERE IN SYDNEY, GQ WENT PITCH SI DE B E HI ND TH E LE NS.

GQ (Australia) - - FIT -

When it comes to sport, noth­ing com­pares to watch­ing it live. The ac­tion, the drama, the pas­sion, it’s un­ri­valled. En­joyed from fur­ther away than you’d or­di­nar­ily do so on TV, it doesn’t mat­ter be­cause you can re­live the win­ning strike or con­tro­ver­sial send­ing off on­line or in the pa­per the next day. But have you ever won­dered what it’s like to be the per­son be­hind the lens? After an end-to-end 90 min­utes of fast-flow­ing foot­ball, watch­ing some of the best play­ers in the world, we can safely say we’d never ap­pre­ci­ated how hard cap­tur­ing the per­fect photo in sport is. Post game, and 5324-odd shots later (three of which were deemed print wor­thy), we spoke to leg­endary sports photographer Delly Carr about his beloved pro­fes­sion, and how we can im­prove our skillset. GQ: What skills are nec­es­sary to be a good sports photographer? Delly Carr: A true sports pro­fes­sional un­der­stands light, tim­ing, ex­po­sure, com­po­si­tion and fore­thought. An ath­lete fore­casts their mo­ments in which they will an­tic­i­pate, re­act to, and live when the set day of com­pe­ti­tion ar­rives. The same mo­ments that a sports photographer must try to an­tic­i­pate, re­act to, and live when they are pre­sented to us. A pho­to­graph ‘fixes the mo­ment’ of an event. In that mo­ment, the pho­to­graph pre­serves what the eye might oth­er­wise not cap­ture. GQ: The se­cret to a good photo? What are you look­ing to cap­ture? DC: My world is about mo­ments – quick and fleet­ing mo­ments that are oth­er­wise missed – but brought into ex­is­tence by the phys­i­cal pho­to­graph. GQ: How do you best fol­low the game? DC: It is a bal­let be­tween my lens and those bright baby-blue eyes of mine. I look at the ac­tion bold and tight. I in­vari­ably shoot with my ‘Nikkor 80-400mm’, ‘Nikkor 300mm F2.8’, or ‘Nikkor 600mm F4’ lens. I feel like I am in another sub­urb when I put on a wider lens. So, then I have my left eye kept open and watch­ing what’s hap­pen­ing out­side the bor­der of what my right eye views in the viewfinder at that mo­ment. GQ: What are the big­gest mis­takes of a sports photographer? DC: Sports pho­tog­ra­phers do not make mis­takes. They make judg­ment calls, which at times may not pay­off in full. But other times you hit the gold seam and strike it rich. Sports pho­tog­ra­phy is about ex­pe­ri­ence, vi­sion and good proper men­tal prepa­ra­tion. The qual­ity of im­agery can be judged and val­ued when these fac­tors of the equa­tion are cal­cu­lated. The fi­nal value of the im­age in­creases nu­mer­i­cally as these fac­tors in­crease with age and ma­tu­rity. GQ: And the great­est mis­con­cep­tions? DC: That once we get ac­cess on the field, and have the right equip­ment, then it’s easy. That’s bull. It re­quires a lot in a world of sport that is de­fined and re­stricted by spon­sors, sport­ing bod­ies, or­gan­is­ers, se­cu­rity, TV, in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty of ath­letes and sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions. Try be­ing cre­ative in an en­vi­ron­ment con­strained by touch lines, walls, sta­di­ums, sig­nage and con­crete. It is a highly skilled pro­fes­sion, more than you can imag­ine.

Pho­tos, like this one, that stick in our minds, are the re­sult of count­less hours re­search and metic­u­lous prepa­ra­tion.

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