18 Jan : South Korea v India

I have now covered every India game in this tournament, although I did not plan to!

I am sad they have got knocked out. Their fans were brilliant. The team was so joyous to photograph. Even photographers here who do not normally shoot football commented on how much they liked the experience of shooting India.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

I grew up on Shrewsbury Town as I keep saying.

Today they played Accrington Stanley.

I want to be there. I want to be there with my friends on the terraces eating pies, drinking Bovril and shouting nonsense at the linesman.

But I also want to be there taking pictures for that is what I do and have done since I was 16.

Adding to my Shrewsbury Town library that so sincerely does not mean anything to any professional picture buyer but is important to me.

But if I was home I’d probably be doing work for one of the English Premier League clubs that my agency are the official photographers of anyway – so there would be no Shrewsbury Town match!

I’m in Doha.

It may be winter back home, but it is winter here too. Winter here means rain. After a day of my skin not aching from sunburn, the rains came. And they came hard!

It lashed it down!

I went through the old self asking questions of

Why am I here? What I am doing? Who actually cares about this game?

South Koreans care about this game. My fellow photographer friend Koo cares, its her national team playing today. The bus driver who was wanting me to have a nice day and was  taking me to the stadium is caring lots – he is Indian.

People in Germany wanting pictures of Son Heung Min who plays for Hamburg care about this game. A whole photo agency that I collaborate in India with will be watching the TV and watching my pictures come in with more spirit and passion than any FA Cup Final I do because it is THEIR national team.

Not only that, there is the prospect that Bhaichung Bhutia will play his last game. IF you don’t know who Bhutia is then look him up. World football is so much more about Messi and Beckham and is why I spent 11 marvellous years working for a great group of people covering the sport I love photographing footballers who most have never heard of!

I now run my own company and have my own clients, make my own decisions and take my own pictures. Today’s game is vital to some, even though I can’t be bothered because of a bit of rain! It’s what I do, it’s who I am. I don’t want an office job. I have amazing friends here, my friends back home can wait. I never get homesick and I am certainly not homesick today.

For the first time in 6 weeks I really wrapped up warm. CNN may say it was 20c but it was damn windy again and with no sunshine, I was cold.

Today I sat next to Tara. Tara is American and works for AP. She knows of Shrewsbury in the UK and in Massachusetts which is OK by me and I did OK in asking if she came from New Jersey when in fact she comes from New York. Close enough for me.

After us, there was the ever amazing photographer Kishimoto then a load of TV cameraman. The turn out of photographers today was well down. Only the hard-core turned up. We laughed about the frail staying indoors, hiding from the rain – well except Koo, she was concentrating and was under immense pressure shooting her national team. She can afford to lark around and have friendly chats when doing other teams, but not today.

In South Africa, it was certainly like Big Brother with 15 people living under the same roof. This is different. We all go home to our respective hotels, but we all come out to work happy and lively. We all moan and whine at the same things. We all laugh at the same jokes. Today we all cocked up massively on the white balance. We are all supposed to be at the top of our game but spectacularly all our pictures were over yellow and we were oh so massively critical and embarrassed.

One more day to go then a day off! WOO HOO!

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

I want to spend time with Yohei. Yohei is my best friend in Tokyo. When in Tokyo I go drinking with him and the girl who if I lived in Japan would be my wife, she is the official photographer for Tokyo Verdy from his agency. He did not do the World Cup and during that time I missed having a Japanese man around who can not pronounce Giraffe. Instead he says Gilaffe.

I want to spend time with Shinji. I have learnt more about Japanese language structure from him in the past 2 days than in ten years in being a lover of Nippon. He understands how I think and has changed his teaching methods. I felt like a school boy again today – leaving language class and going to art knowing I had done well.

I want to spend time with Koo. She is just a random South Korean girl to some, but her work is amazing. OK she is a female and lovely, but I just want to grill her and know more about her and what she does. She has an unhealthy knowledge of English football too.

I want to spend some quality time with Hara. Although I see Hara all the time in Europe doing Champions League but we rarely have good long chats these days. He wants to shoot camel racing too.

I don’t know Tara at all but know a bit about her. She is a great photographer but I feel that she does not do much football. Although people in the outside world would class us as the same as we take pictures for a living, we are so sincerely different and have different crafts. She does hard-core news features and I’d love to listen to her stories.

Although I yearn for these things and be with great people, I am going to explore Doha alone on my much-needed day off. Its January 18th and including being ill for 4 days at home, travelling here, I have already done 16 football matches this year.

If it rains I will go crazy. I remember having ONE day off doing the whole of the England cricket tour of the West Indies and on that one day in Barbados, it lashed it down.

Where ever you are in the world, you need friends, people you know but you also need time to yourself.

Todays blog may be a load of waffle, but today was simply routine.

Headshots, managers, team groups, action, fans, stadium views and a few shots of fellow photographers to email to each other before bedtime.

We are like factory workers – but each producing our own individual product.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Today I tried to master the art of blurring pictures, Japanese style.

I expect failure and got failure. I got nowhere near the standard required.

The Japanese shoot with 600mm lenses at 1/15th sec panning fast match action.

When they get it right the pictures look stunning. I was close on a few occasions but alas my work is not good enough to syndicate but when at home or indeed at other important matches, I can not afford to practice new skills.

At the end of todays shift, South Korea won 4-1. The Germans did not moan about late pictures so they must have been happy.

As always Indians have a smile on their face regardless of their plight.

The Indians in the agency did not contact me.. most of my work is faceless without communication. When I get an email it is because something is usually wrong.

Koo was happy as her national team had progressed.

And I was happy as it was quite refreshing in the end to shoot a game of football in the pouring rain.

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

As about 4 people said, “Is this what it is like in England shooting Manchester United in the rain?”

“Yes” I replied, “We all get soaked like this, shoot Park who does nothing but is the best player on the pitch, but sadly no one notices him!”

© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

Oh.. and Bhaichung Bhutia came on for the last 15 minutes.

I fear the stringers for Reuters, AP, AFP may not know who he is.

Hopefully today’s haul will be fruitful in the years to come.

I never saw Johan Cruyff play, but I can tell the Grandchildren I saw Bhaichung Bhutia play. I mean that with a lot of sincerity. It’s the passion that drives us all to do this job and today I was made up that I actually witnessed Bhutia play. They call him God’s gift to Indian football.

Perhaps the God’s were crying because it could have been his last match. I wonder what their excuse is tomorrow? More rain again apparently!

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One response to “18 Jan : South Korea v India

  1. peter robinson

    Dear englishman abroad

    you are tireless…………………..

    By the way my niece is looking for an englishman to marry – her name ? , Toko – very cute – interested ???

    Good work from Qatar

    – as Banksy said

    “The holy grail is to spend less time making the picture than it takes people to look at it.”

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