Three nominations in two months…what’s that all about?!
Following my success at the Picture Editors’ Guild Awards, I recently travelled down to London once again, this time to attend the annual Sports Journalists Association (SJA) Awards, held at the Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden, where I was shortlisted in the Single Sports Picture and the Specialist Sports Portfolio categories.
I knew it would be hard to emulate my earlier achievement…not only were the categories brimming with leading industry names, but these awards are notoriously difficult to make an impression on with football photographs.
Despite football being the ‘bread and butter’ of most sports journalists’ work here in the UK, photographic entries continually fail to make an impact on the judges, regardless of the quality of the work. Most regular football photographers are shooting a minimum of three or four matches a week, more often than not for editorial clients. That means the demand for newsworthy images supersedes the photographer’s desire to shoot ‘pretty pictures’, a desire born out of his or her natural creativity. Of course, editorial demands far outweigh any ‘artistic’ requests…however when those offbeat images are captured, they stand out above everything else and catch peoples’ eyes like nothing else…the same people who see football pictures day in, day out are surprised and relieved to see the sport captured from a different perspective, without a goal, a celebration, a foul, or a sending-off in sight. When you’re the sole agency representative covering a match, opportunities to stray from the norm are few and far between; it’s a shame to realise those of us that have put the effort in to do a bit of everything over the course of a nine-month season are continually overlooked when it comes to awards recognising the best in British journalism.
I was extremely happy with my entries this year, something you’ll rarely hear me say. It’s incredibly hard, believe it or not, to find what you believe to be ten award-winning pictures from a single calendar year, especially when you shoot football. So often, you’re restricted by where you can sit, what you can take pictures of or when you can take pictures…and once you’re settled in, and have managed to apply the correct exposure settings for a scene before, in an instant, nailing your dream picture, you realise a steward in a bright orange jacket is standing proudly in the background of your otherwise-immaculate frame, and back to the drawing board you go. You can prepare for every eventuality in sports photography, but there are so many things still out of your control that your window for opportunity to capture a special picture is only ever open for a split-second, before powers beyond our control shut it in your face.
My entries are below. The image of Sergio Aguero doubled as my Single Sports Picture entry too…