I confess I had not given sports photography that much thought as I went out and about snapping landscapes and events but when I lost my job back in July of 2012 I started to think more laterally about the kinds of work that I could get.
I was always to be found at the Tour of Britain cycling event when it came to Woking and even got my sad paparazzi backside on the TV this year (shame) so when I read a tweet from the Woking News and Mail in Woking looking for a sports photographer I thought ‘why not?’ I contacted Tom (the Deputy Editor) and after meeting with him, he sent me on a mission to photograph two local football teams and a rugby team in one afternoon. It was certainly a baptism of fire. I set of in my car to take photos first at Chobham Rugby at 2pm. After an hour there I scooted off back into Woking to get photos of Knaphill FC and then on to Westfield FC for the final two games. I was knackered and stressed and worried that my work would not be what they were expected.
I needn’t have worried too much because Tom seemed quite pleased with the results. I however, knew that I could do much better and it was clear to me that my kit wasn’t up to the job of capturing the action fast enough. I needed a plan if I was to do this seriously. I decided that I would set up a WeFund page to help me get my photography business off of the ground. Cue numerous people who shall remain nameless of accusing me of scrounging and begging, but that didn’t deter me a bit. I knew that if I raised enough money for the lens I needed, a new camera body, a printer and supplies, not only would i get the shots the paper and I needed, but I could also sell my art prints and perhaps make myself sufficient and get off this unemployment train that i hate so much. I also knew that health wise it was a good move. I have bipolar disorder. I’m not afraid to talk about it because the stigma of having such a disorder needs to be tackled head on and the ignorance of it is something that I and millions of others have to live with on a daily basis. Getting out and about and doing something you love that takes you away from the drudgery and depression that surrounds you when you are unemployed is something that all people with this disorder need to try and do. Its hard but you reap the benefits when you do and you start to make a positive situation out of something that inherently feels hopeless at any other time.
I was gobsmacked by the response of my friends who all helped me make the target before my deadline. I snapped up a f/2.8 70-200mm Sigma lens and an f/2.8 18-50 Sigma alongside an A3 colour printer and enough supplies to sink the Titanic. I then spent hours into the night building a shop page on my website so that I could sell the prints. My friend Chris was an absolute star in helping get the website off of the ground. His head scratching and deep technical knowledge helped with things that were driving us both mad but we got there in the end. I then hit ‘publish’ and sent a few tweets out so see what would happen. Well people bought prints! I wasn’t expecting it to be honest. Maybe that was the disorder talking but I sold enough prints to recoup the cost of the printer and inks back and people seemed genuinely happy with their purchases.
I got invited to take photos at Woking Swimming Club and was asked if I wanted to sell them on the site. I put them up and lo and behold two parents bought prints. I also sold one of my limited edition framed prints. Meanwhile my sports contacts were building up. My shots for the paper had gotten me some attention with local clubs and they started asking me to do small things for them like taking extra pictures for their website, headshots for player profiles, end of game candids and in the case of the Surrey Football Association, a weekly ‘soccer snaps’ profile as their official photographer showcasing non league teams on their website. I even got to spend a very enjoyable evening watching one of my favourite sport basketball, taking shots of the Woking Blackhawks who also wanted to use some photos. My name is getting out there.
All in all its about little steps. I have gingerly learned my way in the world of sports photography and am learning something new every time I go out and take shots. Yesterday I went to a ground I hadn’t visited before, Camberley Town FC and what a lovely bunch they were. I’m writing a separate post about them next up with some pics. I’ve also decided that some of the posts here will be about the grounds and the clubs I’ve visited along with some snaps. These local clubs do a marvellous amount of work for grass roots sport and they are often underfunded and lacking in support from local authorities. If I can help raise awareness of the work they do a little bit then maybe I am paying something back to them for all the half time coffees that defrost my frozen fingers and the free access to the grounds in the first place