Photographers' Blog

Saving the Canon 400mm f2.8

By Murad Sezer

All photographers make plans to deal with possible clashes. They are ready to protect themselves and their equipment when covering a potential riot (or a May Day demonstration as I did a few days earlier). But you don’t expect to be doing that before a soccer match, or any other sports events.

While covering the May Day protests I don’t carry a camera bag or a laptop. I head out with my two camera bodies, spare memory cards, a gas mask and a wireless lan transmitter attached to the camera body to file my pictures – that’s all.. It’s more comfortable and easy to cover if any riots break out. But to cover a soccer match is a different story. If it’s a cup final or a decisive match like last Saturday’s Fenerbahce – Galatasaray Turkish Super League Super Final, we bring along much more equipment. I pack a hardcase with a laptop, 3 camera bodies, four lenses including a 400 mm f2.8 super telephoto, remote control devices to set up a camera behind the goal, network cables, a mini tripod etc. And usually we don’t even think about the safety of ourselves or our equipment. Normally during half time or at the end of the game we set our cameras down and rush to file pictures from the field or in the photographers’ working room.



SLIDESHOW: SOCCER FANS GONE WILD

However, in the shadow of the season-long match-fixing scandal, tension was high before the Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray derby. Fenerbahce had to win, while a draw was enough for Galatasaray to lift the championship trophy. Remembering when fans rioted two years ago after Fenerbahce missed out on the league championships at home, all the photographers were worried about the end of this match. But I didn’t see any photographer friends take any precautionary measures. It looked like they had no plan B, but I had one. My plan B was a padlock! The game started. It was a rough-and-tumble season finale. The two teams did not score and in the five minutes of injury time I felt that the match would finish 0-0. That would mean Galatasaray would become the 2011-12 Turkish champions, which may trigger some violence by disappointed Fenerbahce fans both on and off the pitch.

With the final whistle, the Galatasaray team gathered in the middle of the pitch. While I was photographing the away team’s victory with a 400mm tele lens, I saw riot police running onto the field to protect them. Some photographers were already in the middle of the arena. Losing the championship against their rival club at home was a big shock for Fenerbahce fans and players. Some 50,000 fans at Fenerbahce Sukru Saracoglu stadium were almost frozen. In just a couple of minutes the Galatasaray team members were surrounded by riot police and photographers.

I understood that I could not take pictures with my long lens behind the goal. Fenerbahce fans started to shout against Galatasaray. Minutes later they would start to throw whatever they had in their hands onto the pitch so it was time to pack. I collected all my gear very quickly, placed them in the hard case and locked it with my five-euro padlock as fans started to throw seats and sharp objects onto the field.

A glance into Germany’s dressing room

By Kai Pfaffenbach

Football, or “soccer” for our American friends, is the top sport in Europe. With the Euro 2012 tournament in Ukraine and Poland later this year we are expecting another sports highlight just before the Olympics in London. Sixteen teams will fight for the European title and after their good performance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Germany is amongst the favorites for this event. Title holder and World Champion Spain, Holland and France are on the bookmaker’s shortlists as well.

With the big tournament to come I had asked the team press spokesman a while back if I could get some behind the scenes access on Germany’s road to the final in Kiev. It was a big surprise when I finally got the opportunity granted to shoot the set up in the dressing room for an upcoming game. Almost 40,000 spectators in the newly renovated stadium of Bremen were expecting a great test match between Germany and France. By that time I was inside the catacombs of the stadium where even TV is usually banned from. You will never make it past all the security standing around without very special permission.

Entering the dressing room, or should I say “dressing hall”, was really different to any other sport venue I had seen before. Each and every player has his own personal space; one match dress on a hanger, a second one lying on his seat.

From the Quake to the Cup

By Mariana Bazo

Nearly 300 Haitians are stuck in Inapari, a tiny Peruvian village on the border with Brazil. They are victims of the 2010 earthquake in their country and traveled weeks chasing their dream of simply getting a job. They believe that in Brazil the upcoming World Cup is creating great opportunities.

Some 3,000 kilometers after leaving home, they reached the Brazilian border only to find it shut to them, closed to stop the wave of their compatriots that began to arrive after the disaster.

They wait in the middle of the jungle and understand little. They’ve bet everything on this chance, selling or just abandoning all their belongings back home to make it this far. They now have nothing in Haiti and can’t reach their destination, nor can they return. They even asked me why they’re not allowed to cross the border, assuring that they are good workers and are willing to work hard to live better.

Goodbye to hell

In the second half of the 2010-2011 Turkish football season Galatasaray moved to its new home ground in Istanbul, the Turk Telekom Arena, a 52,000-seat multi-purpose stadium replacing the Ali Sami Yen Stadium.

The fate of the legendary Ali Sami Yen Stadium is now sealed.

Ali Sami Yen stadium in Istanbul 2010. REUTERS/Sevim Sen

The demolition of Ali Sami Yen, one of the most iconic venues in Turkish football and the home to one of the three oldest Istanbul football clubs Galatsaray for 47 years, started last week. For almost half a century, the yellow-and-red lions hosted their rivals in this temple with the slogan “welcome to hell”. The stadium played host to victories against European giants FC Barcelona, A.Bilbao, AC Milan, Real Madrid, E.Frankfurt, and a historic victory against Neuchatel Xamax. Most notably it was the scene of Galatasaray’s triumphal UEFA Cup campaign in 2000.

Galatasaray soccer fans cheer during the Turkish Super league derby soccer match between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce at Ali Sami Yen stadium in Istanbul March 28, 2010. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

The team played all its home group and qualification matches for the 2000 UEFA Cup at the stadium before winning the final against Arsenal in Copenhagen, the biggest success in the history of Turkish football.
World renowned Italian referee Pierluigi Collina even once admitted: “I love this Hell.” It was witness to unforgettable national and international football matches, hosting world class teams, players, coaches and referees. The stadium witnessed 14 of Galatasaray’s 17 Turkish league titles. Opened in 1964, Ali Sami Yen Stadium has always played a major part in the Turkish football scene, being home to Galatasaray’s heyday and many victories of the Turkish national football team.

Yes, my job really is this glamorous

When people ask me what I do for a living, or they hear tales from my wife about me being away at the Olympics or shooting football or golf or a Papal visit somewhere, the usual response is to tell me how glamorous my job is, rubbing shoulders with all these famous sporting and political icons and how lucky I am to get to attend all these events and call it work!

Granted, I am incredibly lucky to have an office that regularly includes Premier League football grounds and other major sporting events, but glamorous……not a word I would often use, and last night was a perfect case in point.

I’ve been shooting professionally now for 15 years. Being located in the north of England, an awful lot of that time has been spent shooting football, which we all know is an outdoor sport. I’ve experienced most things that football can throw at you: the thrills, the spills and the bad weather. But I have never been as wet as I was at last night’s league cup game between Liverpool and Northampton Town.

Samurais in South Africa

I arrived in South Africa with the Japan team filled with excitement and an acute feeling of anxiety. Never mind that I would be on the scene to cover the world’s biggest sporting event, and never mind that I would be competing against the top sports photographers from around the globe to get the best pictures. For a Reuters photographer like myself dedicated to a single team, when your team drops out of the competition, you’re finished. Like the defeated team, you go back to the hotel, pack your bags and spend the long flight home wondering what went wrong. Based on Japan’s lackluster showing in the East Asia Soccer Championship my expectation for Japan was three defeats in a row and no victories. Mine would be a short stay in South Africa.

A Japanese boy living in South Africa reacts as he watches Japan's national soccer team depart from South Africa at O.R. Tambo airport in Johannesburg June 30, 2010. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

But during Japan’s first match against Cameroon the Samurai Blue seemed to transform themselves in front of my eyes with Keisuke Honda’s goal being the catalyst. Japan was defeated by the Netherlands in their second match but the Samurais demonstrated the unity of the team in their performance and they were victorious against Denmark in their third match. In doing so they completely wiped out the image that I held of the Japan team before going into the competition. I was covering the world’s biggest sporting event, and I was going up against the top sports photographers, but in this World Cup Japan’s victory meant that the formidable teams of France and Italy and the even more formidable photographers accompanying them were going home. Not me.

Japan's Shinji Okazaki hugs Keisuke Honda (18) as they celebrate their victory against Denmark after their 2010 World Cup Group E soccer match at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

On June 29, 2010, Japan faced Paraguay in World Cup match 55. Even after extra time the game remained scoreless and a penalty shoot-out would determine the outcome. I moved into position according to the instructions of Chief Photographer UK and Ireland Dylan Martinez, the leader of the Reuters photographers for this match.

Looking ahead to England vs Germany

Photographers Dylan Martinez and Kai Pfaffenbach discuss what they expect from Sunday’s World Cup match between England and Germany.

Fans, fire and fury

Fenerbahce’s hopes of winning the Turkish league title for the 18th time were all resting on the final round of games in the 2009-2010 Super League. Expectations among their fans were high, with the major Istanbul club knowing a win at home against Trabzonspor was enough to clinch the championship.

Second-placed Bursaspor were one point behind Fenerbahce on 72 points and faced the tough prospect of a match against last year’s champions Besiktas. Some 50,000 Fenerbahce fans wearing navy blue and yellow jerseys took their seats at the Sukru Saracoglu stadium with their attention focused more on celebrating their imminent title triumph than on watching the game.

Fenerbahce's Daniel Guiza of Spain celebrates scoring a goal against Trabzonspor during their Turkish Super League soccer match at Sukru Saracoglu stadium in Istanbul May 16, 2010. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Spanish striker Daniel Guiza scored the opening goal in the 14th minute, but nine minutes later Trabzonspor equalized with a goal from Burak Yilmaz. The first half ended 1-1. Even at that stage, Fenerbahce fans were very confident of victory. There was an atmosphere of celebration in the stadium. In the second half Fenerbahce played more attacking football.

Broken man on the pitch

From Nigel Roddis

Arsenal vs Stoke City, Saturday February 27.

It was a game that wasn’t going to plan. Stoke took the lead but Arsenal in the second half started putting on the pressure with wave after wave of brilliant football. It was only a matter of time, you felt, until they scored a winner. Way over the halfway line, frantic gestures were coming from first a Stoke player and then Arsenal players and the referee which meant something very serious had happened.

SOCCER-ENGLAND/

I could see Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey partially obscured by a Stoke player in agony with his ankle at a right-angle to his leg. The first frame I took was the best as his expression said everything. After that he seems to have gone into shock as he doesn’t seem to be in pain.

SOCCER-ENGLAND/

Next, I was looking to get Ramsey and Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross, who tackled him, in the same frame. Shawcross was sent off and then walked towards the tunnel where I was. I’ve never seen a player in 20 years of covering football so distressed. He was in a flood of tears and I think it will take him some time to get over what happened.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…?

Snow. Looks good on those Christmas cards, doesn’t it? Fun for small children. Even nice for penguins in the zoo. But photographers covering soccer? Brrrrrrrrrr. Not really.

Let’s get one thing straight. We Brits go on about the weather like a stuck record, but when it comes to it, we can’t cope with it. That’s why we live in Britain.

We whinge when the mercury drops to -3 (26 degrees Fahrenheit). A colleague of mine in Canada will point out that’s not cold. Cold, proper cold, can’t feel your fingers, just walked into a fridge cold, is -25 (-13 degrees Fahrenheit).