So another Wimbledon Tennis Championship is over. O.K so it was over ages ago but I’ve only just recovered enough to look through my pictures again.
What an extraordinary championship it was. I’ve covered it for about 8 years and despite believing our one hope Andy Murray is a fantastic tennis player, I never truly believed he’d make the final. The night Murray won the semi-final I was walking to the car-park with Sports Photography legend David Ashdown. I asked him how many years he’d been covering Wimbledon “34 years ” came the reply. “Did you ever think you’d see a Brit in the Final ?” , “No” he said.
When Nadal went out early it started to look good for Murray but he still faced stiff competition. We all started to speculate on what an enormous story this event in a small part of South London could turn into firstly if he made The Final and secondly if he won it. History in the making.
From a Newspaper Photographer’s point of view there is a lot more to covering Wimbledon than what is jokingly referred to as “Bat and Ball”.
To begin with you have to follow the main man Murray whenever he trains and not just during matches. Training often gives a little insight into the ‘Dour’ Scot. Contrary to this persona he is often smiling and laughing during these sessions on the practice courts at ‘Aorangi Park’ where the public are denied entrance. One of the staff there even mentioned to Cavan Pawson from The Evening Standard that this relaxed side was even more evident when we were not around. There is much anecdotal evidence that he is in fact the opposite of ‘Dour’ and other players have mentioned how much of a comedian he is in private. There’s no denying he has a ‘Public’ face which very rarely slips. A friend of mine in Yorkshire offered me a crate of Beer for a picture of Murray smiling on Centre Court. If he’d have won I think I’d be awaiting delivery.
One of the biggest distractions from the Tennis In our celebrity led industry are the guests who turn up in ‘The Royal Box’ frequently generating more interest than those on court. Following Catherine Middleton’s wedding to our future King last year the presence of her and members of her family has become a major event at the contest.
It should be straightforward enough really. Sit in one of the Photographer’s pits with a 600mm or a 600mm and a 2x converter (1200mm) and watch your celebrity/Royal subject react to every shot of the game. Err..NO.
To begin with The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club does not approve of it’s VIP’s being spied on for every second of their visit. You simply can’t sit there watching them. There is also the fact that a 600mm is quite a large piece of kit and if you imagine a line of closely packed Sports specialist Photographers on a bench with everyone pointing their cameras right except for one News Photographer pointing the other way. It’s a sure fire way to lose friends and alienate people. So you compromise. You shoot the Tennis (it is after all why you are there) but when the players rest between games and sets then you turn your attention to the guests. It’s not ideal but it is necessary. The other difficulty is that despite having fellow Telegraph Photographer Heathcliff O’Malley accredited and in attendance the rules only allow one from each organisation on court at a time. This is to prevent the big agencies flooding the limited spaces with shooters from every corner of the world. So when you are on court you have to do both the sport and the news.
Oh and a bit of ‘Bat and Ball’
Another hitch is the fact that during the breaks in play when the players are seated is also the best time to shoot the expressions on their faces as they contemplate the shots they’ve just made and consider how they will try and win. They are often lost in their thoughts and their faces can sometimes speak volumes. Pictures which are a hundred times better than one of Cliff Richard clapping.
The greatest Dilemma with a Brit in The Final was if he is winning who do you watch at Match-Point ? Andy Murray or Catherine Duchess of Cambridge. Whose reaction will make the front page ? 2 seconds after the Match-Point is not THE moment, 1 second after and the reaction has already changed. You decide.
Thankfully (or regrettably ) Mr Federer made the choice irrelevant. So after 14 days of following our favourite Scotsman around SW19 we watched as his emotions overflowed and he left Centre Court with the runner up prize. Better luck Next Year Andy.
As a little side project Heathcliff and myself shot some bits and bobs around the Championship on our i.Phones. I used the Instagram app and Heathcliff used Hipstamatic.
These are a few of my fav’s there are more at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/picture-galleries/9379006/Wimbledon-2012-Telegraph-photographers-Instagram-and-Hipstamatic-photos.html