The Football Tournament in Brazil is now well behind us, but far from over, with many of us still in a whirl of emotions as we reflect back to the different moments that had hit home. In the coming weeks, we take a look back to all those riveting weeks, to relive the memorable moments and discover the stories behind them – through the eyes of Nikon UK Ambassador and Olympics Photographer of the Year 2012, Mark Pain, who was on the ground in Brazil keeping a diary for us!
What follows is part one of two of Mark’s dairy– make sure to check back later for the rest of the story.
The Football Tournament in Brazil. A sports photographer’s dream or a complete logistical nightmare? It was the question on most photographers minds before they departed for Brazil. I for one I had no idea what to expect. I heard tales of woe and read endless news articles that stadiums weren’t ready – even that locals would be protesting by burning barricades of tyres outside the grounds.
A Look Back
My first Football Tournament working as a professional photographer was in Japan in 2002. Not much could go wrong. As an English photographer working for a leading British newspaper it was picture heaven. David Beckham was in his pomp, made for great pictures and you just knew that everything from the trains to the shower in your hotel room would work perfectly. Germany 2006 was pretty fantastic too. My abiding memory of that tournament is the great weather – so, so hot. It was brilliantly organised and the whole feeling was one of a big football party.
South Africa 2010 was a great football party too, but in a different way. There was a genuine feeling that this was Africa’s moment to show the world how far it had come. We knew that Africa was mad about football, but could it successfully put on the biggest tournament in the world? Well the answer was an overwhelming yes. The football looked after itself, England was useless once again and South Africa did itself proud as a host. There were a few teething issues with Media Centres at the beginning of the tournament but apart from that everything was great – and most things worked as they should and turned up on time.
So to Brazil and what lay ahead. For a start Brazil is nine times the size of South Africa – it was going to be a football tournament of planes, planes and more planes. A flight from Sao Paolo up to Manaus takes four and a half hours. That’s if you can get a direct one. Eight hours plus if you can’t. That amount of plane travel is a real headache to sports photographers. With new airlines to deal with, and their luggage ‘carry-on’ policies vague at best, it could be a real lottery. So planning how I was going to get my camera gear from A to B took up a lot of my time in the run up to the tournament.
There were two different types of travel I had to plan for: from airport to airport between games and to and from the stadium on match days. Both had different needs and, in an ideal world, you would probably choose different bags for the two different situations. But logistically that wasn’t going to happen and a solution that does both jobs well needed to be found.
Carrying €35k + worth of camera gear around with you in Brazil is not the safest thing to do, and photographers are obvious targets. We stand out like a sore thumb. There were also shocking stories of equipment being stolen from under your nose by other photographers inside the Media Centres at the Confederations Cup, the test tournament in Brazil in 2013.
Unfortunately, our fears were confirmed and the very same happened during the World Cup 2014, with tens of thousands of Euros of equipment regularly being stolen from different stadiums all over Brazil by other accredited media, some of them photographers. That’s just the last thing you need.
My regular camera bag is a rolling Thinktank bag. However, I was very wary of safely travelling to and from the matches, and a wheelie case makes you stand out as an obvious target. That’s why I opted for a bag identical to my regular bag but one that also had excellent shoulder straps as well and doubles as a backpack. The kit list is below.
• Nikon D4s Body x 2
• TC 14e 1.4 converter
• Nikon SB800 Flashgun & battery pack
• Pocket Wizard MultiMax remotes x 3
• Ethernet cables, card readers and data cards
• 13″ Macbook Pro and iPad 2
This was part one of four of Mark Pain’s diary. Make sure to check back later for the rest of the story. In part two, Mark kicks-off with shock at the readiness of the stadiums and the first match, Brazil v. Croatia, in São Paulo.
Mark Pain is the current 2012 Olympics Photographer Of The Year and has twice been named as the Sports Photographer Of The Year in the UK.