Sunday, 7 April 2013

Shooting for fun?

It's seems like ages ago since I agreed to take on Plymouth Raiders and document their home games, alongside Foto+. Several people showed an interest in this and I'm going to be honest here, it doesn't matter how good or bad you think you are as a photographer; it doesn't matter what equipment you have or haven't got, it's all down to experience and shooting for the love of it. After evaluating what I've done (and the huge amount of hardware space I've used) I'm really happy with the results.
So far I've worked on 16 games and I would have to say before working with the Raiders I wasn't a massive basketball fan. I had to learn about the game and dynamics of the sport and understand the event as a whole.
Foxy ©Matt Elliott 2013

Anyone who goes to a game will tell you how fast paced it is. Crowd participation is key, the cheerleaders, the mascot (Foxy) and the whole community feel makes for a busy time for any documentary photographer. Alongside myself there are other photographers, the one for the local press, who is after a couple of shots for the paper generally shoots for half of a game but is only looking for a commercial piece to fit alongside the game report. If there is one thing I am lacking now is a long range lens of at least 70-200 ƒ2.8. I tend to favour my 85mm prime now as it eats the light but is unforgiving, you get the shot or you don't.

I also love to work in black and white but this isn't really possible unless the raiders are being filmed for the TV and they have the house lights on. This then enables me to capture more of a dynamic range. I also love the fact I can focus on the cheerleaders as normally it's near impossible to capture them during a game.

Although I don't supply the Raiders with my black and white photography if I see an image which is suitable to convert I'll always take advantage of it. Working commercially also takes a fair amount of discipline. It's no good leaving your files sat on your memory card, and having a well organised workflow is essential...

  • Capture in camera! There's no point shooting on rapid fire and having thousands of files to sort through.
  • Delete on the go. If you get the chance delete as you go.
  • Upload some, not all. Working with RAW and a full frame 24.4mp camera takes up a lot of space. I've just filled 1tb (again) and it's not cheap.
  • Flag the images you're going to edit and work with a pre-set if you can. I now have three pre-sets for the Raiders.
  • Save and send. If you have a client waiting...don't make them wait. You'll only get a bad name.
  • Back-up. Back-up your RAW and saved images. Things break.
I've had the opportunity to network while working for the club and now have a large portfolio. I have tried to create my own signature style and not to be overly commercial. The downside for me has only been the perspective and viewpoints. I have tried laying on the floor, going to the back, getting close and everything else you could possibly think of. There is a walkway which goes above the arena, but due to health and safety it was no go! Pity really as this would have given me a birds eye view.

Once I tried shooting with my camera on a monopod with a remote release cable. This wasn't easy as I was shooting blind and is a case of hit and miss...I didn't want to drop my camera too.

How much do I get paid for this...this is something I get asked a lot, well if I do a rough calculation about -£90. I've done this for nothing and paid my own transport costs. This doesn't include the use of all my equipment, batteries, electric and countless hours of time ( well about 98 hours). The fact is I've done it for the love of photography, the game (which I now love) and the experience. 

I now know my equipments capabilities, under these conditions, and what I would want on my wish list if I were to take this genre up professionally. There's not much of the season left but I'm sure I'll be back for 2013/14.....
Thanks to all at Plymouth Raiders, Foto+ and of course Foxy.

All images ©Matt Elliott 2013

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