Photographer brings football to life
Football, like so many other sports, is reliant on a plethora of contributors. From coaches, players and medical teams, to ball boys, officials and administrators, these groups all make the wheels turn, but it is another such group that helps bring our actual endeavours to vivid life – and that’s the sports’ photographers.
Coming from many parts of the country, as they do, to cover women’s football, spending hours not just on the touchline, but in front of PCs and laptops, editing, cropping and selecting their images, for your viewing perusal, they are a special breed but what is it about football, that appeals? We caught up with one of the Lions’ staunchest toggers – but also too, one of women’s football’s most dedicated photographers to date – Garry Charles, to find out.
How did you get in to American Football photography?
GC: Well up until a couple of years ago I spent a great deal of time with my only passion which was rural landscape photography but one could say that I was “coerced” into attending a women’s Football event by my daughter, Becky, who, at the time, was an active member of the Birmingham Lions’ team, and from there, I’ve never really looked back, and so now, I have two passions.
..and how do these two passions compare?
GC: There is actually no comparison between landscape and sports photography – they’re very much chalk and cheese. Landscape photography is predominantly all about lighting, accurate exposure control and above all, patience, whilst the challenges of American Football pertain to utilising longer, telephoto lenses for getting close to the action without getting into harm’s way, hopefully! It also requires some knowledge of the game, and being able to anticipate the action, which only comes from experience.
You get involved with a lot of teams and events, what’s the appeal for you?
GC: I love to travel to different venues and events and meet players. It’s the sheer diversity of “characters” in the sport – no two players are alike! Moreover, it’s being able to photograph as many players as I possibly can at each event with the pure intention of “show-casing” them. I get a real thrill when I produce good photographs, upload them and find that the players love what they see. ….and I’m not just referring to the action shots – it’s wonderful to be able to capture side-line activity as well as candid shots of players.
You cover flag and tackle football, do you have a preference?
GC: I like them equally to be honest. Each has different characteristics during game-play which keeps me interested in both.
Do you have any ambitions regarding your football photography?
GC: No, not really. It would be nice to be regarded or recognised as “one of the regular toggers” on the American Football circuit but to date I’m just involved and committed because, quite simply, I love it.
You’re quite a perfectionist, how much time does football photography take up?
GC: I’ve not counted up how much time and effort goes into my photography, but I can tell you that the majority of the photography I do now is American Football. I can spend most of a day at an event taking anything from 500 to 3,000 shots. Following this its 3 to 5 days to inspect each and every photograph, then I need to process the images in batches in readiness for uploading as an “event album” (on to my Facebook page). Any other photographs that I produce, which I refer to as “specials”, can take a further 2 to 3 days to ready and finish, dependent upon their complexity
Wow! So there you go everyone – for every 4-6hrs a week teams are practicing, Garry and many of his piers are matching that and then some…so next time you see a great picture of your club or your team-mate reflected in all their glory – busting a tackle or delivering a titanic hit – make sure you spend a moment to pay thanks to the men and women behind the lenses, as without them, this football world of ours wouldn’t look quite as good as it does today.
Image courtesy of, and with thanks to, Becky Charles.