The Hockey Writers’ Club ‘Photo of the Month’ competition for May has come from the camera of Graeme Wilcockson.
His shot shows Lily Owsley acrobatically scoring for England in their shoot-out at the end of the FIH Pro League match against China.
The Hockey Paper spoke to Graeme to get more colour behind the image and her hockey photography.
How pleased were you with the image and how often do these types of images come about?
Naturally, I’m very pleased with the image. Acrobatics in an international match on UK hockey’s biggest stage? Doesn’t get any better!
As a photographer, I love a shoot-out. There’s no melee of bodies which can be distracting in a goalmouth shot, just the attacker in full flow with speed and trickery versus a goalkeeper fully committed to blocking the shot by any means. There’s even a helpful countdown timer!
What camera/equipment did you use?
This particular shot was taken with the ageing but uber-reliable Nikon D4S from 2014 and a Sigma 70-200, shot at f4.
I shot the whole match from the sidelines on a 300mm prime, but for the shoot-out I quickly relocated adjacent to the goal – and as close as I dare (while staying safe and without the officials yelling at me). Sometimes there’s just no substitute for getting right ‘in there’.
I’ve always believed a great sports photograph is about getting tight to the action and finding the angles you can’t always see as a spectator. As the snapper’s adage goes, ‘if your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re probably not close enough’. Get that sweat and sinew!
How long have you been capturing hockey on camera and how useful is the hockey writer’s competition to grow the game?
HWC have been great. A fantastic and talented hive mind which offers helpful advice, reasoned debate and no shortage of quality and inventive images. The monthly competition is a great tool and since judging is now a result of the group’s members voting individually, I am more than flattered to have been considered a winner.
We all want to promote the game and present it in its best light, so whether its smiling club amateurs in the rain, or Lily Owsley contorting herself in midair, then HWC is doing its part.
How important is photography for hockey clubs and the work you are doing at clubs like Buckingham?
I have to admit, while I’ve always had a love for hockey I’ve only been shooting it for about three years. I’m forever grateful to Buckingham HC for letting me track them around the country.
What was ostensibly a selfish exercise to widen my portfolio has now burgeoned into a genuine love for the club. A fraction of the size of their peers, yet still punching their weight in the Premiership. That’s a story worth telling, even if just in image form!
For more details on how to join HWC, contact the club here.