The 2017 RugbyTown7s, held at Glendale's Infinity Park were played in very hot temperatures. With the teams being closely matched the tournament was also brutal in its physicality and all the teams suffered a degree of attrition. As the first day drew to the end I took the opportunity of using the softer light and then the floodlights to take some black and white portraits of a few coaches and players. None of the images were posed for but were opportunity shots adjusting position as first the sun went down and then making use of the stadiums excellent floodlighting.
Again part of the inspiration for this work is down to others. Stephanie Drews, a photographer in California, recently showed me an excellent book of her images based on MMA fighters and, as I have mentioned before, the work of Jeff and Laura Jacobsen at University of Kansas provides a large body of work to refer to and opens the eyes to different ways of showcasing a sporting organisation. Similarly a presentation from the Seattle Seahawks photographer, Rod Mar, again provided some thought provoking ideas of what can be achieved by an embedded photographer. Finally conversations with Mark Terril and John McDonough served to remind me of the need to keep pushing for something different when at events.
Three images of the support staff of the USA Collegiate All American Sevens team taken towards the end of their match against Canadian Maple Leafs, a game which had a very tense finish with the Canadian side seemingly in control before CAA snatched victory. The three images were taken when they were behind in the match so there was a degree of tension in their technical area. All three (physio, coach and head coach) were being side lit by the last of the day's sun.
The next two images feature players from Atavus during a slightly later match against Ramblin Jesters, another game which had a cliff hangar finish before Atavus snatched victory after the final hooter. Both images were again taken when the team were behind and the result looked like going Jester's way. Again the images were taken with a setting sun providing light from the far side of the athletes. The fact that they have light on the right hand side of their faces is due to an office block (CherryTower) on the East side the ground. This office block is totally clad in glass and provided a very soft light reflected back against the setting sun for a short period at the end of the day.
As always a larger version of the images can be viewed by clicking on them. All images in this blog were taken with a Canon 5DSr and Canon EF200m f2.0 wide open.
Along with the very first image in this blog the remaining images are all of the British Army team and coach. The images were taken during their warm up prior to the final match of the day, which kicked off at 21:00. All the images were taken under the Infinity Park floodlights with the team located tight in one corner of the pitch.
We will be announcing later a project we will be undertaking with the Army Rugby Union where the intension is to showcase some of the players in a different environment than straight forward on the field action images. Something that takes me well out of my comfort zone as a photographer.
I was pleased with the results obtained which were achieved by working around the warm up drills and remaining conscious of where the light from the two floodlight towers was falling. Of course it helps the photographer when one of the players has a totally shaved head! I must also thank the Head Coach of the British Army, Isoa Damu who allowed me to be amongst his players whilst preparing for an important competitive match. A match they won to finish the day unbeaten.
Damu's cap is from UK Charity; Rugby For Heroes. They run a course called "Transition Through Rugby" which has an aim to support military service men and women through the sport of rugby. Players provide professional expertise guidance and mentoring to help develop core life skills, teamwork, a greater depth and knowledge of the sport. If you wish to know more about this charity that does so much to help Servicemen and Women then click here.