At the end of the week it can sometimes be a struggle to find the inspiration to come up with interesting blog post subjects!! After a great day out today I’ve come away recharged and even a little inspired myself to develop personally in more ways than one.
Today was all about Mentoring. Helping. Sharing.
Recently I extended the hand of mentoring to a young lady from within one of my sporting circles who’s had a pretty rough time over the past few years, and despite some recent good news, there has been another setback to deal with.
On the surface the hard times didn’t appear to rattle her, she smiled, laughed, waved and moved on with what needed to be done. It has been this amazing, positive attitude which has endeared her to so many around her. When the latest setback was announced, she found a new outlet to keep her within her supportive sports family. Photography has become a replacement for some of the things she has had to miss out on and will have to continue to forego.
As an outsider, watching her struggle, endure and conquer with never-ending determination and positivity has been an inspiration. So the time came to help pay back something of what she had lost - an identity within the sport she loves. I offered to mentor her in photography, with a sports focus.
I met her this morning. The young lady who greeted me at the door was full of smiles and energy. I was told she was a little nervous about her early photos being critiqued, so that probably explained her excitable enthusiasm!
We chatted about photography, how we both came to enjoy it, our motivations and interests. Basically it comes down to two common factors > Grassroots Football and the Western Sydney Wanderers FC. After three hours of chatting and a few guided exercises thrown in, her interest and enthusiasm skyrocketed! Here is a young lady who has overcome great odds and is still striving for more. Her will to develop her skills and knowledge is incredibly motivating.
As I spoke with her about photography basics I found it was pushing me to remember and refine my knowledge too. It’s amazing how talking about what I do on “automatic pilot” made me stop and think “is there another better way?” Being a Nikon camera user (and budding ambassador!) the other challenge was learning how a Canon digital SLR camera actually functions. I even resorted to the manual - haha!
It is nice to help others and get that warm fuzzy feeling, but to see the appreciation and the interest from this young lady was more than worth the few hours of my time. While I didn’t give away my trade secrets (I’m still learning them myself...) she now has enough knowledge to forge ahead. Some professionals feel a bit threatened when they mentor people. Like if they give away too much information the other person will know what they know and then beat them at their own game.
I don’t buy into that belief. Sharing my knowledge has always made me feel good. I hope I have given this willing girl the knowledge to get as good, if not better, than me. After all, if there is no challenge or competition, then what are we all here for?
BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE
“A picture paints a 1,000 words” but they don’t always tell the full story.
I feel the cold. I have a hate-hate relationship with the cold. But the photography must go on! Rain, hail, sleet or snow… brrrrrrr!
Last Saturday night was one of the coldest nights I can recall over the past few years, sideline shooting football. The only saving grace was it wasn’t raining. The night before Canberra had suffered through its coldest night in 46 years! I think this night was colder again and here I was out in it with camera in hand. Totally nuts!
The photos were great, the action was fast and the coaching staff tempers were warm, but standing on the sidelines it was freezing cold! Jackets, jumpers, beanie, gloves & thermals! Did I say I hated the cold??? Try using a camera with gloves - boy that’s a challenge - so I wear gloves that are fingerless on the thumb and index fingers. Man those exposed digits almost cop frostbite sometimes!
Post-match, the photos were edited and uploaded to the client, published on social media and everyone was happy - that is everyone who was at home in their warm lounge rooms looking at the photos on their devices. Somebody please think of the frozen photographers! In all seriousness though, we were loving what we do and the sports we shoot. But me, I hate the cold. Did I mention that?
Photos tell the story of what is in front of the lens, but sometimes there is more story behind the lens. Like a frozen photographer!
ROLL IN THE ARMCHAIR CRITIC
Winter brings on the onset of kid’s winter sports. The cold frosty mornings doing grounds set up, the frozen feet as you watch your Under 6’s giggle and roll around on frosty ground instead of warming up… It also brings on the off season for the A-League! The player's "holiday season” as it were.
While we can and do get frustrated with the grassroots football, do we not also get frustrated at not having the A-League matches to yell and vent at? Is it this lack of an outlet at the elite level on a regular match day that builds up within during the off-season?
The off-season is also the transfer window between seasons. Many clubs purge after a weak performance. Others will keep the majority of their players after raising the trophy at season’s end. The fans, the armchair critics, the sideline experts will raise their opinions. “So‘n’So” should go, he cost us dearly". "Pay 'Joe Bloggs' more as he saved our bacon between the sticks". In a salary-capped competition it really is a juggle by management to fit everyone in and pay them what they’re worth or how much they want.
With the advent of social media the armchair critic opinion is rampant, it is hoisted with ease and defended vehemently. Clubs announce new signings and within minutes of the social media post there are opinions on the player bought. “We don’t need him, he was useless at his old club”. Without even being in the country fans have dismissed players. Others see a different light. Other fans see a positive from every new signing. “It’s new blood. He will revitalise the old slow team we had”.
I’m always curious as to how fans can be dismissive of the player, of the team manager for making the signing or for the scouts even finding the player in the first place. The armchair expert is passionate, one way or another. As fans we expect to be heard by the club, we even demand it at times. Yet quite often we don’t allow the player the same opportunity.
As photographers we snap them all. We capture their best. That match winning celebration. The false start celebration. We capture their heartache. We snap it all. There is no time to judge the player as we snap away, trying to get THAT shot for the fans. THAT shot that shows the heart of the player, playing with passion for his club.
Often I’ve seen the sledged player become the saving grace of the club and the praised and lauded signing become the villain. Let’s just give the new players the chance to show what the coaching staff saw. And while we are at it, support every player that wears our colours.
The opposition? Well that’s a whole different matter and a whole new blog post!