Sports and Action photography is all about timing. It’s about reacting. It’s about being in the right place at the right time and it’s about execution.
These are all qualities of the athlete and those of the photographer covering them as well. Each sport has predictable and unpredictable moments. For instance, in cricket, photographers will have opportunities to capture jump shots, players diving to make the crease, diving to take a catch, diving to field the ball, a bowler leaping in the air as he bowls, a batsman screaming in joy on reaching his century, etc. Understanding the timing of these predictable actions allows a photographer to capture the peak moment; when the action is most dramatic.
Before I start editing I always have a brief chat with the photographers about what could be the day’s great picture. The staff never fail to deliver and meet expectations. I briefed two photographers covering matches from the quarter-finals onwards not to forget to look for emotion in the players and the fans. A good number of the best shots come from the crowd. I received a bunch of nice pictures of the crowd from the final.
While editing pictures from the semi-final match between arch rivals India and Pakistan, I thought I should leave the confines of our New Delhi desk and photograph the match in Mohali. The Mohali semi-final match had a few news angles attached to it. Firstly, India and Pakistan were playing each other after a long time; secondly the Indian Prime Minister and his Pakistan counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani were watching the match in the stands after the latter accepted an invite from Manmohan Singh to watch the match. It was a historic moment where one could see the prime ministers of two nuclear-armed countries sitting side-by-side enjoying the game. But in the end, I am glad I edited their pictures.
It was difficult to juggle everything during the India-Pakistan semi-finals because sport was mixed up with politics. One of the two photographers covering the match called an hour before the match saying Getty Images would pool the pix of Indian and Pakistan Prime Ministers meeting with players of both countries on the field. I called my manager in Singapore to convey the message to him.