Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Crazy English guy wearing a kilt....

Ok so some of you guys and girls are probably wondering what the hell was I doing wearing a kilt on the piste at the last day of the alpine world championships in Garmisch Partenkirchen. Well for those of you that have not heard, the race was my last ever ski race as a freelance photographer. So I thought I would go out in style wearing the Gunn tartan.

I have had to give up sports photography now due to the fact it just is not financially viable. So I shall return to London and get a full time job probably back in the security management area. I will not work as a part time photographer, as this is one of the reasons that makes it hard to work as a full time photographer, when you get bank managers, IT guys etc etc, the guys with too much extra money and no life at a weekend that they have to go take someone else’s job, and then giving their photos away for free or posting them on social networks etc without a watermark so people that may have purchased images in the past can just get a free copy. I may sound bitter and quite frankly I am, I spend hours in freezing conditions trying to get good shots only to find that clients have used a free photo which is of piss poor quality or shot from the finish area and heavily cropped into.
I often think I should go to their main place of work, do a sub standard job so they have to quit, just so they can see what it feels like....

You may see me again on a race piste but that will only be if I manage to secure a full time job as a photographer, and as there are only 3 agencies that cover all the races, this is highly unlikely to happen, but I can but hope.

Over the past 4 seasons I have had a great time, and now have some fantastic memories which will stay with me til I go senile!! My favourite memory has to be 2 years ago during the Val d'Isere World Champs, I was meant to cover them but due to my mum getting rushed to hospital I had to miss it, the young Swiss ski racer Lara Gut emailed me most days asking after my mum,

and Ana Jelusic the Croatian skier also emailed regularly.

On the race courses I have also had some fun moments, like the time I had a yard sale in Semmering a few years ago, Lindsey and Thomas Vonn skied off to pick up my ski's camera gear etc, even though they were in the middle of a course inspection. Last week has also been good because I got to see a friend become a world champion I am chuffed to bits for Ted Ligety, and I think there is lots more to come from him.

Life on the tour can be long and lonely at times, especially when travelling around in a motorhome, I have been lucky to occasionally have pretty cool neighbours like Bode Miller, Julia Mancuso, Marc Berthod, Daniela Cecarelli. On the piste I have always tried to make the working environment a fun place for me and my fellow photographers, I am always ready to play the fool, or even sometimes the dumb Englishman!!!!!

I will let you guys know what happens



Tuesday, February 8, 2011

GAP World Alpine Champs race day

Day 1 of the races is now done and dusted. This race piste is going down as the iciest I have ever had to ski, in the end I had to take my skis off and walk down parts of the course with crampons, safer for me, and everyone else on the course as I didnt fancy becoming a human missile, and I was not the only one that struggled. I had skied the piste a few days ago and it seemed fine, but that was without an large backpack with about 30kgs of expensive camera gear, especially seeing as I have already destroyed a camera and lens this week (fell out of a locker)
It's really hard shooting speed races and having to try and get a different shot from the main agencies so I can try and sell some, it gets even harder when they come down and stand next to you at the last minute!!
For today I tried 2 shots one was a traverse

And the 2nd was a more general Super G type shot with a gate in either the foreground or background.

Not really happy with either pictures, but hey tomorrow is another day... For those of you that like to know the technical side of it I was using a Canon 1d mk4 with a 400mm f2.8 lens and a 1x4 converter.
Tomorrow we have 2 races to cover, a men's super G and a ladies downhill training, so I shall be editing and sending from the piste in between runs, which is always interesting!!!

You can see the races on Eurosport (UK) and ORF (Austria) ZDF Germany and Universal in the US

Catch you soon


Friday, February 4, 2011

The 2011 FIS Alpine Skiing World Championships.

I will try and blog each day from Garmisch Partenkirchen and the FIS Alpine Skiing World Championships, I know I have neglected the blog lately but as most of the readers follow my business site on Facebook I did not feel the need to blog.

This is my first major skiing championships, having had to miss out on the previous one in Val d'Isere France 2 years ago through a family illness and then the Olympics last year despite having accreditation for both. This time around I made darn sure I would be there. I arrived a few days ago to (1) relax and take some time off having been on the road since the start of December and (2) as this may be my last sports event I cover as a photographer I wanted to savour it.

For those of you that do not already know, I am a freelance photographer, which means I have to pay for all my expenses, arrange all my own accreditations, arrange my own travel and accommodation, and rely on getting my invoices paid on time to help me sustain the trips.

Life on the road has been good to me this year but the cold weather has started to take it's toll on my poor old motorhome, which needs some serious TLC to get it back to a fully operational state. Staying in temperatures of -20c and doing daft things like forgetting to top up the propane tanks for heating, obviously does not help. But enough about that and onto work stuff!!

Garmisch Partenkirchen for those of you that have never been here or heard of it, is a small town (I come from London so everything is small after that) in Bavaria a region of Germany. I first came here over 20 years ago on a skiing trip with the British Army, we may have also visited a bar or 2 in those days! I have since been back on a number of occasions both as a ski tourist and also 3 times to cover the world cup races. If I ever win the lottery this is one place I would like a place. The history of it is as varied as the people that now call it home. The skiing is not the most difficult in the Alps and there are nowhere near as many runs as you would find in some of the large resorts of Austria and France, but what this place offers is beauty just makes you want to come back, be it the amazing view of the Zugspitze mountain, Germany's highest which is part of the resort, or the lovely Bavarian style buildings.

I have spoken with residents and other Germans about the World Champs being here, and the general consensus is one of disappointment that the old stadium from the 1936 Winter Olympic Games was not knocked down and replaced with a new building. Personally I like the fact it has remained, otherwise it would feel like they were trying to sweep part of the history of the town, region and country under a rug and pretending it is no longer is there. I lived in Berlin for a few years when serving with the British army, and the old Olympic stadium complex there were our barracks, so for me it's sort of like coming home to a familiar place.

For the Championships I am lucky enough to have one of the 40 allocated on-piste photo bibs, which means I get to shoot action shots and not get stuck in the finish area which I hate, the bad thing is that my young apprentice was not granted accreditation, apparently there were over 600 applications from around the world, for only 140 positions, 40 on piste and 100 in the finish area. I will be sending my images all over the world from either my laptop on the mountain, or back in any of the sub or main press centres. Hopefully a few will get used in newspapers and magazines so that can help top up my petrol tanks....

I mentioned earlier on in this epic piece of writing that this may be my last event. When I return to the UK after this I am going to have a serious think about if I want to continue doing this or go back to my previous profession of security management, where I can at least make a decent regular wage.

Well that's about it til the next issue of Mitch's blog.


The 2011 FIS Alpine Skiing World Chgampionships Garmisch Partenkirchen. - Images by Sportsphotographers.eu .