My comeback to sports photography happened gradually. I re-discovered my old love to sports photography some 7 years ago. I started my comeback in cycling, first shooting my friends on the bike, then shooting professional races. Two years ago, I moved back to my old sport, athletics (I was a 400m runner before that thing, called age, stopped me). After two years in athletics, I decided that I should develop further and add something new.

My choice was Volleyball. Why Volleyball? I wanted to shoot an indoor sport. Switzerland’s national women league is very good, even compared to international standards. The best Swiss team, Volero Zurich, plays very well in the Champions’ League, and there are about 5 other really good teams. One of them, Sm’Aesch Pfeffingen, is close to my workplace and another one, the Dudingen Powercats, close to my house. Finally, there are options. One of my best friends, Volleyball fan too, lives in Friedrichshafen, GER, that hosts the best German team. I might combine visiting him with shooting.

These were the dreams. Here is reality! From my first match (Sm’Aesch vs Lugano) I returned with about 15 pictures that were ok. Only three were really good. The rest was crap! Let me explain. There are two rules of thumb (means, there are exceptions):

  1. No ball, no picture. It’s easy to shoot the players standing, jumping, diving, etc. A picture without ball leaves the viewer alone, guessing why the player is standing, jumping, diving, etc. Better you include the ball into the picture. The problem: The sport is extremely fast. If you react to some action, you’re almost sure to miss it. You’ve got to anticipate the moves.
  2. No face, no picture. Viewers are intested in the personalities that exercise the sport. Shooting players from their back is not the way we want to look at people. The problem is the net. If you want to shoot some thrilling action from the front, the net will be between your camera and the face. If you walk to the other side, you’ll likely to shoot the players from behind.

So in Volleyball, anticipating the moves is everything. Of course, I knew how the sport works in theory, but then, many little subtleties let me fail. I started working, preparing myself. Several hours of theory, and watching, without shooting, how “my home team”, the Powercats, was playing. This paid off. My output per match quickly increased to about 100 pics, more than you need.

The next stage will be to shoot pictures that you don’t see every day. I’m hoping for cool ideas what to do… A few hours before the next match, my head is still empty, though…