I was allowed out from beihnd Picture Desk to cover the Irish Open at Portstewart. A first time to check out the Fuji XT2 (along with the Power Grip).Read More
Another year and another chance to pit the Fuji XT1 against the Superbikes of the North West 200.Read More
Time to get back down to the waters edge. Winter is coming and with that the chance to work on my surf photography portfolio.
Northern Ireland Surfing PhotographyRead More
Some action from the MTB 2016 World Championship in Fort William.Read More
Huge bike stunts meet the FujiFilm 100-400 lens. A match made in camera heaven :)Read More
Time to get your race face on ... That's right .. It's the North West 200Read More
Practice day at the North West 200 in Portrush, Northern Ireland and my first chance to have a proper play with the Fujifilm 100-400mm lens.Read More
Skaters on the Portrush seafront shot on the iPhoneRead More
Last night a thousand limp handshakes I've had to endure from people over the year years were finally put right, although I may need to type most of this blog post with my left hand only. You see when Big Wave surfer Al Mennie shakes your hand, it stays shook for the foreseeable future.
Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me take a few steps back.
In my previous blog post I touched on the fact that I was using that trip over to the mainland to consider my future in sports photography. For the past 8 years I've been covering football, from grass roots right through to the top level. At the beginning of the year, for a number of reasons, we relocated from Cambridge to Portrush, on the North Coast of Northern Ireland. It's a beautiful place. It's wild. And for my landscape work, it's pretty much perfect. The problem however is that there isn't much of a global market for Irish League football. Given this, the opportunities for football photographers in the area is perhaps a little thin on the ground. I've always maintained though that to get the best images the photographer needs to have at least an interest in the sport they are shooting. Working for an agency this isn't always possible (you do what you need to do), but ask most and they will have their absolute favourite sports to shoot. And it shows in their work. Many of the other big sports in Ireland (Hurling, Gaelic Football) hold little to no interest for me, so again this limits my options.
And this brings me back onto the subject of surfing. Now before I go any further lets get one thing straight. I have pretty much zero interest myself in catching a wave (big or small). I've tried it. Once. I managed to get up for a few seconds, feeling like a king riding triumphantly on his stallion past those struggling in our beginners class, for a moment even considering a life of robbing banks dressed as John Major, before being slammed face, then ass, then face, first into the sea. It wasn't however that experience which stops me. It's more the fact that growing up my mum instilled a raw fear of water that I've carried throughout my adult life. I can swim (like a P+O ferry) and I do get myself into the water, but I know my limits and for now I'll be keeping both feet on solid ground.
So what's the connection then between my love of sports photography and surfing? Well for many years I've been in love with the art and technique of outdoor sports photography, be that ultra running, mountain biking or indeed surfing. Do a quick search on websites such as 500px and you will see some beautiful images. Like all areas of photography most people can take an okay image of pretty much anything, especially these days. A much smaller percentage however can take these images and turn them into something beautiful. To tell stories with their images. This takes time. This takes practice. And it takes passion. Just take a look at some of Chris Burkard's work.
And so it's not just the artistry of surf photography that appeals to me. It's the person behind the image as well. Their story. What drives them. Their passion. I am in absolute awe at people at the top of their game. Could watch them all day. Musicians, Artists, Runners. Crafts folk. Their passion for their chosen genre is what drives them on. I'm especially drawn to those who are passionate about the outdoors. Be it running, climbing or indeed surfing. Some examples of this passion come through in videos and movies such as 180 degrees south, North of the Sun (which I first saw at an Outdoor film festival a few years ago) and of course Of Fells and Hills, which I find myself watching at least a few times per month. I love their stories as much as their passion and skill. A common theme in each of these videos. Stripping away the unnecessary items in life. Simplicity.
Living here in Portrush puts me right bang in the epi-centre of surfing on the North Coast and I want to put together a collection of images over the next 12 months of the surf and water culture on my doorstep. It fascinates me. I watch, quite often open mouthed, as the surfer (or paddle boarder) makes their way out. Battling through mother nature at her wildest. How they sit, sometimes for what seems like an absolute age. Watching. Waiting. And then they are up. Riding the wave. Twisting and Turning. Triumphant.
And this brings me back to 'that' handshake. I'd been watching Al Paddle board for about 30 minutes from our balcony and managed to fire of a couple of images. Sadly the light was fading fast but it was just fantastic to watch him. How he read the waves. Using his paddle as a rudder for control.
Afterwards I took one of the images and printed it on the Fuji Instax printer and gave it to him. Top chap, but next time I'm going to wear my Incredible Hulk fancy dress outfit below my clothes. I hear however he's a big old softie at heart :)
Anyway, just a few images of Al doing what he does best. Thanks for the show. Hope to catch you again sometime.
Back to football again now. Windsor Park on Monday evening and then down to Dublin on Tuesday.
Inspired by the images from two of the biggest names in sports photography I feel both inspired and flat as I consider my next steps in sports photographyRead More
2016 already and here I am typing this from the mecca of the Sports World ... Portrush, Northern Ireland. Perhaps there is a market for potato racing?Read More
It's time to don the winter gear as the weather takes a turn for the worse. Cold, wet and windy is the order of the day. A few images from the past few months before we get into the Christmas period of games.Read More
It's back to the future ... or is that back to the past? Anyway a little memory of a simpler, and in some ways, happier time on the side of a football pitch. Cambridge United ....Read More
A small selection of my favourite images from the season so far.Read More
Although I've not been shooting that long, compared to some, I hope some of my tips will help those who are considering getting into sports photography. This blog post is part 1 of 2 and is focused on my preparation steps in the lead up to a game.Read More