August 12, 2010

"Where are his feet?" (T.O)

Tennis is in town. I don't feel like blabbing about how to shoot it; there's a thousand ways to do it, and to quote a mentor of mine: "You'd have to suck not to get "something" out of three hours of hitting the yellow ball". (Though it is a little more subtle than that)

But I thought I'd share a little bit about the importance of feedback.

Feedback is invaluable. Having experienced shooters helping you out and telling you how you could have done this or that better, is the best way to improve.

Upon coming back with what was probably the best "jubo" picture of Rafael Nadal; a colleague and mentor immediately said : "Where are his feet?". Referring to what he saw on TV (from the media room); Nadal jumped at that moment upon winning a very long set, and my tighter picture didn't show it.

Now this picture is still good enough; and he could have simply said "good job", but by telling me how it could have been better; you can bet your ass off next time around, in that situation, I'll be shooting loose and will have the full body.

And that's how you learn, and that's how you get better...


  1. If you were loose, he may not have jumped and than your shot would have been too loose. You can never win, man.

    Bob Carroll has a story about that. Same situation at a big golf tournament, possibly the PGA. He said he knew the golfer's personality and knew he would do something wild if he made the put, so he loosened up before the shot. The put went in, the golfer jumped and Bob got the shot. His moral of the story was that in order to be among the best sports shooters, you have to know everything, right down the players' individual personalities to consistently get that game-defining photograph.

    Personally, I'm not into professional sports or sports photography to the point where I am willing to put in that amount of effort.

  2. You're absolutely right.

    And there are many subtleties in doing that (just as there is in any field of what we do).

    In that specific case I kind of did my homework: I went back to the side of the court where despite having an obstructed view I knew I would position myself between him and his coach (uncle). That was where he looked after each rally and thus the most likely spot he'd be facing when the intense reaction would happen.

    Identifying the most likely direction in which he would react was a good start, (as the other shooters had his back). But you're right when you say that the best sports shooter will know all those little details.