Sports Photography is a seemingly glamorous profession.
You get to go to all the ‘big games’, travel the world for free and all you have to do is take pictures. I dare not mention the line ‘do you get to meet the players?’
Shall we stop it there or carry on!?
There must be a purge in students wanting jobs again.
This week we have had no less than eleven wannabe snappers contact us.
Sadly none of them are anywhere near the standard required.
Not through their football photography as such but simple basic photography skills – straight horizons, basic composition, the ability to meter correctly to name a few.
What University lecturers are teaching the young I have no idea.
I still stand by my opinion that the uneducated and self-taught are the best photographers; they have no bad habits, seem more liberated and have more about them and certainly do not go around thinking that the world owe’s them a living.
We could of course give them the benefit of the doubt and possibly knock them into shape – however they all sadly fail at the first hurdle.
Piss poor preparation = piss poor performance.
To any student reading this : DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
I would HATE to be called old-fashioned, however from my experience in running newspaper photographic departments to helping train up and coming snappers and now running my own photo agency, the fundamental aspect that I and others are looking for is someone unique and someone who stands out from the crowd.
All the enquiries this week were “Hi, I am ….” with the vast majority carrying on with oh so obvious copy and pasted words. No one had done their homework finding out my name or the names of the other photographers who work for AMA.
None of them wrote with a style showing their hunger.
ANYONE who writes “Dear Matt, I would dearly love to join your team and work alongside the likes of Sam, Cath etc …” would instantly get my attention. I won’t even go into the basic reasons why.
99% of the time my replies are challenging as I want to see who is writing to us.
We prod the wannabe snapper and seeing how they react. Most of them never reply and disappear into the wilderness.
Those who do reply sometimes make it.
My philosophy is that taking pictures is only half the job. The other is doing your homework, being prepared and never assuming anything. (someone famous once said those words!)
I think photographers who travel all over Europe will agree with me when I say that if you know the Anderlecht Press Officers name and ask for him by name when there is no pass at the ticket office, you will stand more of a chance than if you appear numb and void of any character and spirit. Sending a photographer overseas and they not be let into a stadium is not an option for an agency owner. The photographer HAS to get in to cover the game and it is up to them to do so.
When someone sends website links to illegal pictures published on a website that in all honesty are substandard will get the simple honest reply of …
“With the greatest respects I don’t think people realise the standards required to be at the level of being on £20k with a company car. In the old days you could have worked in a darkroom and trained that way but in this bad digital age there is simply nothing to do. You have to sacrifice a lot to even stand a chance.”
Sadly I received the following reply :
“I’d rather go unemployed than work for a tosser like you, don’t even have the courtesy to leave your name. I’ve already got a job working as a trainee *** ****** ******* which is far better pay and benefits to the one your talking about, so stick that in your darkroom.”
Why do people result to anger and name calling when they are challenged ?
Why don’t they read and understand what they are being told when they asked for advice in the first place?
Most people feel Simon Cowell is an evil character when he is judging on X-Factor? I love him. He is honest and to the point. Sadly most people do not like the truth and can not face rejection.
Working in a photo agency, newspapers are very unfriendly and stressful environments that sadly most would not last a week in. Try calming down a stressed picture editor on a tabloid newspaper when you have missed the tackle that resulted in a sending off who is swearing at you down the phone. Dare complain about his industrial language as your pictures will never be seen again.
This industry is tough, not only commercially tough but tough to survive in.
Returning to mental strength, if a photographer captures a goal in a Final in the first minute and think they are King of the Pitch only for the other team to score 2 in the last minutes at the other end of the field – the dismay and dejection can break some people. I often go home empty-handed wondering why I have wasted my day.
Football Photography is all about mental strength and coping with the internal challenge that you have to set yourself.
Prodding someone and challenging them to do research into who they are communicating with and receiving the reply that I am a tosser makes me laugh, however I won’t lose any sleep knowing that another Shaun Botterhill has slipped through my fingers.