I was very much looking forward to the very last Sunday for quite some time when looking into my calendar. The second round of baseball home games in Hluboká and the first rugby league game this spring. In spite the two events somewhat overlapped, I managed to see both. Fun to observe the differences, and the similarities. No matter what the results were, I saw hustling athletes and a number of spectacular plays. Hungry players, in spite of the mild snowless winter. Lots of respect, right there.
And a bit of "I, I, I" reflection on how I did. The goal was to stay focused on the peak moments as a photographer, not as a fan. Easier planned than done. One would think that with my 20-year experience with baseball, the club, the team and the players it will be a smooth ride through the game with dozens of keepers. Well, I am actually pushing myself to watch the game through the lens, and hitting my head with a monopod every time I get excited about a slide or a double play and forget about the camera. And the rugby, well... I am still sort of running around. I know the rules, I know the players a bit better, I nailed some of the angles, but not much anticipation going on in my head. Maybe I need a players roster in my pocket, a list of players stuck to my lens and a bit of eavesdropping before the game. The number of images I bring home is still huge. I admit that sometimes I simply rely on "spray and pray", especially in the moments of desperation. I also realize that these are almost always straightforward deletes. Sometimes I get a lucky image, a "by-the-way" idea that I try to imitate next time. Are the gigabytes worth it? I would still say yes, as long as the final edit is down to just a few edited images.
Well, aren't both sports ideal for practicing photography? And next time I plan to do something even more fun. Like setting up a remote controlled camera on the other side of the field, down low or high up...
I have been photographing the cover pages for a small local newsletter, Hlubocký zpravodaj, since May 2008. In a sense, it is a map of my full-time photography job, a map of my trials and errors, a map of my still knowing nothing about photography. And long-term self-assignments like these work as anchors in moments when you think the time has come to drop the camera and move on.
But mostly, these images remind me of the many interesting people that live around me, and the many I still have not got a chance to talk to and photograph.
There are 62 covers and a few might be missing, especially from the earlier years. I am glad I wrote to my current edditor back then, offering to photograph every month. Hlubocký zpravodaj is no National Geographic, no Time, no Vogue, but it took me to places and people that I would not have met otherwise. And having more than 62 covers of one and the same monthly magazine in the last 6 years is definitely no reason to complain.
Last Sunday saw the opening league game of the 20th season of the Hluboka Baseball & Softball Club (www.baseball-hluboka.cz). Hluboká, the home team, last year's league champion faced, and defeated twice, a newbie league team, the west-Bohemian Domazlice Wolfs.
The baseball in Hluboká is one of my long term photographic projects and my photography hobby actually took off almost 20 years ago. The lessons learned are priceless, especially in terms of organizing my photoarchive. Preparing an outdoor photoexhibition is not such an easy task when the stock of scanned negatives has less than a pleasant date, time, place, person info on it :-).
In order not to be all around the place, this year I focus on photographing just sports clubs - the baseball club in Hluboka and the rugby club in Ceske Budejovice, and two larger sport events - the world ultimate frisbee championship in Italy and European baseball championship in the Czech republic. And, besides the photojournalism I try to include a bit of portrait work and a tiny bit of video in there too. A plan I try to stick to, at least.
The weekend before last I traveled to Austria for several pre-wedding meetings and to photograph informal pre-wedding portraits. All the meetings turned out great, fun to talk to and photograph all the couples. It will, once again, be a fun wedding season...
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