A friend co-founded and writes for a Berlin-based English language soccer magazine called No Dice, and I volunteered to accompany him as photographer at a number of games in exotic locations (Basse Terre in Guadeloupe, Oslo and, er, Dublin). We were both going to be at these locations at the right time anyway, so it suited. I’m posting some of the shots that were published as well as some others I that liked from the matches, as well as a little about how and why I took them.
No Dice magazine is characterised by a very high standard of photography in my opinion, so I took it as quite a challenge to come up with some decent shots. I didn’t have the gear to, or necessarily want to, tightly fill the frame with sharp shots of players and goals but rather wanted to capture the smell and flavour of each match.
Speaking of which, that’s a sugar cane plantation belonging to Rhum Bologne in the left background:
Lots of these type of games take place late in the evening at poorly-lit stadiums also, so bright lenses were important. I brought a few primes to each game, but the shots I liked most came from the OM.Zuiko 50mm f/1.8, manually focussed with focus assist permanently on. I’d focus on my subject in the magnified centre portion of the frame and guess framing, cropping as necessary as the shots were for the web only. For wider angle shots, I brought along the Panasonic 14mm or 20mm.
The pro photographers at the games were typically Canikon guys, and I managed to hang with them for some of the games where we got in as press. I don’t think much attention was paid to me! One pro at the Shelbourne vs Sligo Rovers match was using a GH3 and 12-35 f/2.8 for crowd shots in addition to his Canikon zoom. We exchanged nods, I think he realised how difficult I had it compared to him with only 20 and 50mm to choose from! This game ran into darkness, and I noticed that I was the only one still shooting with my 50/1.8 at the end, although that may be because the pros had already mailed in their shots and retired to the bar!
The crowd and atmosphere at these “off-the-beaten-track” soccer games is fantastic. Local foods are often cooked on site, and local drinks are imbibed in bars or at stalls in the grounds. I’m definitely not the world’s biggest soccer fan, not close, but I had a really great time at these games.
Vinny and his teddybears have been to every Sherlbourne FC home and away match for six and a half years.
The matches all took place within a period of 6 months or so, and served as a beneficial project and learning experience for me.
We had a wonderful clear afternoon in Oslo to watch this match, with a small crowd in a very friendly and accessible stadium.
The gear I used for all these shots was Olympus E-P1, OM.Zuiko 50mm f/1.8, Panasonic 14mm and 20mm.
Links to Stephen’s articles are below. They are well worth a read as Stephen has a very entertaining writing style even to a soccer-philistine like me. On a serious note, the last article is a worthy exploration of the current sad the state of Irish domestic soccer:
One last shot, as we were leaving the stadium in Basse Terre to wander back home through the tropical streets we came across this fanatastic scene: