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Vanda Biffani’s five golden rules

The 5 Golden Rules in Sport Photography

1. The importance of your trolley

Distances in sport can be significant; you move a lot and with a great deal of weight. The wheels of your trolley or hard shell case (often used outdoors because of the rain) must be checked at the beginning of every new season and replaced, where necessary. If your trolley doesn’t work, you risk having to drag it. A decent trolley can be used as hand luggage on the plane, as well as allowing you to move quickly among the stands or up and down steps, and it should occupy little space in the photographer areas, which are usually very crowded. As well as your equipment and tripod, you need to try to get a small folding stool in too. Everything must always be packed in the same place, so that it just takes a quick glance to see if you have forgotten anything at the end of the day.

2. A good knowledge of the discipline and its leading players

Every sport has its own rules, which, photographically speaking, determine the crucial moments to be captured. At a gymnastics event, a move that is worth a particularly high score (or is of a high level of difficulty) is likely to be the most requested image. Knowing the rules of the discipline is essential in order to be able to select quickly the material to be sent off. You also need to know the athlete, the team and the people surrounding them who may also be sitting in the stands. A lot of athletes are superstitious and use ritual gestures.

3. Knowing the weather forecast

Most of the biggest sports, such as Football, Cricket or motor sports, take place outdoors. Knowing the weather conditions enables you to dress appropriately. The rain is your friend: despite being an annoyance and at times an interference in terms of focus, it gives you more spectacular images. Just think about Rugby: the mud dirties the players but, at the same time, it makes them more photogenic.

4. Meeting the photo manager

Many disciplines involve a Photo Manager; the person responsible for following the accredited photographers. Before the competition starts, a meeting with your colleagues and led by the Photo Manager allows you to get to know the photographer stations, the regulations, the repositioning times and, where necessary, to book entry to the specially restricted areas.

5. Research and mentally prepare a programme

It’s a good idea to get into the habit of going over your old photos, archived over time in specific files, in order to memorise venues, sports halls or stadiums. Each sport has its own leading photographers; looking at their photos is always helpful. The most important moments of the competition, such as the finish line, the celebrations or the podiums, have to be included.

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