I’ve enjoyed photography ever since I studied it at college as part of my graphic design HND. That was of course in the days of film and SLR camera’s and not these fancy digital cameras we all walk around with today. Back then we had to develop our own film in the dark room at Newham Community College and run the risk of not having a single shot worthy of submission. I cannot even begin to imagine how sports photographers operated back then and I have real admiration for their work and the shots they managed to produce.
Today is very different and like many other people I own a digital SLR that pretty much goes everywhere with me. I am also a mad keen sports fan. Growing with up a father who played in goal for his bus garage team on Hackney Marshes most Sundays, who played snooker and table tennis and who always had the game on on a Saturday before Sky Sports got its mitts on the national game, meant I had a ready stream of access to many sports. As i grew up I took part in sports myself. I was a cross country runner and tennis player and represented my school and county in a number of different events. I even won a few medals and certificates, I wasn’t one for sitting around. My football passion never left me but i never had the chance to play. My school was one where girls weren’t allowed to play football so I consigned myself to watching either the game on TV at the weekend with my Dad or going to see Leyton Orient play at Brisbane Road (even more so when I was at college as i sneakily bough a season ticket with my grant money) for their home games.
My passion of the O’s remains but I no longer take part in active sports myself. A completed London Marathon in 2008 and a Great North Run in 2009 finished off an already knackered right knee and now I am consigned to the sidelines. That’s why I took up sports photography. Now i spend my saturdays at one of my local football clubs where I am their official photographer. If it’s not Westfield FC, Knaphill FC or Sheerwater FC at home on a Saturday then its Woking Town FC and the younger kids on a Sunday. I’ll even trundle off to evening games in the week if the mood takes me, I can’t get enough of it.
As a photographer the thrill of sitting there with my camera and watching the action through the viewfinder never gets old. You never know what is going to happen when the teams come onto the field of play. I’m not just talking about the actual game either. I have developed something of a reputation for catching player candids that cause both amusement and consternation as well as enjoyment and I like to observe the people in the game as well as the game itself. There is more to football than just the ball in play. So i watch the off the ball action, the managers and subs in the dug out, the warm up before hand and the funny thing players do before a match as they wait to be led onto the field by the referee. Every human emotion it’s possible to portray is right there waiting to be captured right through my viewfinder if I am quick enough and alert enough.Sometimes its luck. Sometimes it knowing the players and having a rapport with them. I have had players pose for me, celebrate for me and even come looking for me when they have scored to help me get the picture. Other times I have just been in the right place at the right time though more often than not, like many other sports photographers up and down the land I have been the one cursing my head off for being at the wrong end when a spectacular goal goes in. But thats the fun of it. You simply don’t know whats going to happen.
I also stick to non league football. I love the banter, the atmosphere and the purity. There is no arrogance as you see in the premiership or even some of the League 1 or League 2 games. There is just a passion for football which I share.
So, if you see a shivvering female figure huddled at the centre line at one of your visits to a non league game, it might be. But know this. I am enjoying the action just as much as you.