By Wolfgang Rattay
If you’re really interested in understanding how we at Reuters work as a team across Europe to make sure that the right pictures from the Euro 2012 soccer championships arrive in time at hundreds of online sites and the next day in the papers, read this insight. You will understand that everyone in the team is an important cog in the machine and that not everything is someone sitting in the right corner of the pitch and triggering the camera’s shutter. If you read until the end, you will be rewarded with Amanda’s secret “spell-checker” recipe. It’s worth it — but only if you don’t have any health issues with your stomach.
SLIDESHOW: BEST OF EURO 2012
At each game we have five photographers assigned to cover the match. Four are seated, preferably, in each far corner of the pitch near the corner pole and the fifth shooter has an elevated position in the middle of the tribune – more or less at the same position as the main TV cameras. The ‘tribune photographer” shoots with three cameras. Two cameras are equipped with a 70-200mm zoom lens and aimed at both penalty boxes to make sure we have the image that tells the story of the game. This can be a goal, a penalty or a disallowed goal like in the England-Croatia match. The third camera is hand-held with either a four, five or six-hundred mm lens to shoot clear action (with green grass and no advertising boards), reactions of coached players and what ever else happens on the pitch.
The pitch shooters have to operate three hand-held cameras with 400/500 or 600mm, one with a 70-200mm zoom and a third body with a 16-35 in case there’s a goal celebration just a meter in front of the photographer. On top of this, the pitch photographer has to trigger a foot-switch on a fourth (sometimes fifth camera) that is connected to a goal camera that is positioned just a yard or so behind the goal. Look for the cameras set-up behind the goal mouth next time it appears close on TV. These 19 cameras at least, for each game adds up to an average minimum of 4,000 to 5,000 frames that someone has to look at. One of these “someones” is me. But there is also another editor involved that is as important (if not more) as the photographer. This is the person known as the processor.
Let me explain how the Photographer-Editor-Processor chain works; by using the internet and Reuters advanced software called Paneikon.
As an editor I sit in the warm, cosy and most importantly dry office in Berlin and look through the internet at the images of two photographers sitting on each side of the pitch, while another editor takes the opposite side and, a third editor looks at all remote and tribune cameras. The first usable action images of a match arrive about two minutes after kick-off and then the flow of pictures doesn’t stop until the final whistle. I look at thumbnails of the images and decide which are best. The image then arrives within seconds in the systems of our clients across the world and will later show up on pages like the Reuters galleries.