Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ours In the Summer Sun

I was as stunned as anyone by Germany’s dismantling of Brazil yesterday. One lesson for photographers was the methodical calm of German attackers near the opponent's goal. When Miroslav Klose's first shot was rejected (23’) it was no problem. He coolly reloaded and stuffed the rebound in the corner. The Toni Kroos goal at 26’ was just as casual, a simple jab to the back of the net. When André Schürrle put in his first at 69’ he barely broke a sweat. Around the net the Germans acted as if they were at midfield. They passed impassively. No pressure. No worries. Goal... Goal. Goal. Goal. Goal. Goal. Goal.

A Brazilian fan contemplates future expectations (Photo: AFP/Patrik Stollarz)

Brazil’s behavior was just the opposite. Throughout the game they had several good scoring chances. In the end they actually wound up with more shots on goal than Germany. They also had more corner kicks and more time of possession. But near goal they played in panic mode. Every shot (except Oscar’s last) seemed rushed and poorly positioned. You could almost read their thoughts in the penalty area: “I’m near the goal now! Gotta shoot quick! Hope something good happens!” The results spoke for themselves.

Expectation infects experience. Every single time.

It's no great leap sideways to extend this situation to the photo world. Good photo ops are like free balls near the goal. They're relatively rare. You might go a whole day seeing just one or two. So naturally when they come along there’s a tendency to get excited and treat them as special. The adrenaline floods. Thoughts whir. You’re near the photo! Gotta strike hard! Burst mode! Spray and pray! 

Needless to say that's almost always the wrong approach. Better to relax and shoot methodically. You’re at midfield. Nothing is at stake. So just calm down and execute.

Easier said than done. Even though I've committed the above lessons to memory, sometimes in live action situations a good photo op will cause me to just fucking freak out. My brain says calm but my gut says flies-on-meat, and it often wins. I turn into a spazz like Brazil. The photos suffer.

I realize this tendency in myself, so on recent photo outings I've been balancing my freak flag with a handful of tiggercorns in my pants. I usually carry eight, four in each pocket, and I'm pleased to say they've worked better than I'd hoped. I've found that the red tipped ones work best but that's just personal preference. Yellow or orange might work just as well for others. Shop around until you find your tiggercorn.

One day's supply of tiggercorns

When a good photo opportunity presents itself, instead of rushing into the scene I stay back, calmly fingering a red-tipped tiggercorn. I stroke it for a few seconds. Patience. I watch. I feel. When the moment is ripe I pull the tiggercorn from my pocket and I chuck it into the woods, shouting "GOOOOOAAAAL!" 

I do this as many times as it takes until I'm at mental midfield. I'm soaring over the camera's rainforest. No worries. No pressure. Then and only then do I shoot the photo. 

Yeah, soccer is a strange game.


BH said...

Not even google knows what a triggercorn is. And you don't particularly want to image search this term.

Hernan Zenteno said...

What the hell are those things? They appear like suppositories for autobots. I couldn't understand how they could help you to do better photos. And I don't want to image what can do with them the brazilian.
Now is our turn. I prefer our team use more a zen concentration to block the cool german machine. Cartier Bresson used to mention this zen state to do photos. But as latin american I doubt we can cool down our spirit too much. See some photos of yesterday nervous and celebration

Anonymous said...


Those things are fuel injectors and I can't imagine carrying eight of them around in the front pockets of my pants. Especially used ones, which appears to be the case with those in the photo.

badaud said...