Sunday, April 14, 2024

‘They all looked my way’: Oxted photographer claims hockey competition first

The Hockey Writers’ Club has launched a Photo of the Month competition for club photographers and its members – with Debbie Christopher announced as the inaugural winner.

Christopher’s colourful image of the men’s Premier Division match between Oxted and Wimbledon and capturing a short corner moment with Mikey Hoare’s face mask coming loose won the plaudits.

The Hockey Writers’ Club said: “The committee felt that the image captured the moment nicely, telling the story of the penalty corner being successfully defended, with all the players watching the ball deflect away from the goal. Congratulations to Debbie.”

Debbie spoke to The Hockey Paper about the image and how important hockey photography is for clubs.

“I was very pleased with the image. I can take up to 500 shots at a game and always look for the best positioning, action and expressions. Short corners often produce a variety of emotions and this was a rebound off Mikey Hoare defending. I took a series of photos as the players tracked the ball and they all looked my way!

I use a Nikon D500 and a 70-200 2.8 Nikon lens.

I started taking photos at my son’s school matches five years ago – mainly of him but then the other parents asked for photos of their child too. This grew into hockey year books for the team. When he joined Oxted, I offered to take the photos at the games and it grew from there. I now photograph all their Men’s 1s matches and each of their other teams during the season.

The Hockey Writers’ competition is a great idea as there is very little for amateur sports photographers out there that I have found. Seeing other photos, sharing difficulties with light and knowing what settings they use certainly help with my learning. Even cropping is a skill!

It helps to know the game as you can anticipate some of the action, however a good shot can equally be a ruined shot when a player runs in front of you. I like to move up and down the side of the pitch to find the best angles during a game.

Nick Giles celebrates winner against Uni of Durham PIC: Debbie Christopher

The game is fast and you don’t always get the shots you want, especially when the goalscorer runs the opposite way. Wet weather and floodlights add to the challenge.

I think hockey clubs value the photos and especially when they are included in social media. It raises the profile of the clubs and attracts sponsorship. From the comments I’ve received from players, that photo captures their moment and they like to share it.

As a hockey parent, I see the skill and remember the elation and disappointment that a game can bring. I try to capture those moments for the teams. Hopefully, hockey photography will continue to raise interest in the game, not just amongst the hockey family and I am happy to be a part of it, even when it’s raining.”

For more information on joining The Hockey Writers’ Club head here

Total Hockey

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