If you shoot a lot of football games you can get into a ‘normalised’ way of doing things. You sit in roughly the same spot, getting the same angle, taking the same sort of pictures - it can all become a bit of a routine.
If however, you want to learn, you have to do new things, look for different ways and find unusual features. The top sports photographers have a creative mind that sets them apart. They are continuously thinking about adding a different level of ‘value’ to their images. It certainly pays to look at their work as an inspiration to your own.
Thus, as the grandstands are currently enduring a covid related emptiness, I decided to break with my usual routine at the game between Stoke City v Sheffield Wednesday and instead of going pitchside, I ventured about 40 rows of seats up into the Grandstand level with the goal-line and sat there for most of the game with my 600mm lens and a 70-200mm.
The most significant differences are the angle of view (naturally) and the nature of the backgrounds. Instead of empty grandstands forming the backdrop to the action, for many images it would be green grass. I think this is a pleasing ‘clean’ effect to action images.The 600mm gave great range all over the pitch apart from the small corner of the field nearest to me. I could easily reach the further end of the pitch, just about getting both goalposts in the frame, thus I had to do less switching between lenses.
The most difficult bit of it was that I seemed to suffer more of a failure rate usually because stray body parts seemed to annoyingly ruin another wise good shot - this was more so than being pitch side but that may be because I am more attuned to looking out for ‘cleaner’ images when pitch side.
I was really hoping to get the different angle on the ball hitting the back of the net from, say, a headed corner kick but there was only one goal and it was at the other end of the pitch with the scorer being blocked out by a defender behind him. The usual occupational hazard.
I would definitely do it again, or at least build in a 20 minute slot into a shoot where I would move up into the grandstands for a different perspective - when the fans are allowed back in we won’t be able to do it, so take the chance now whilst you can.