Recently, I was asked to be the photographer for a wrestling match for some high school students out in Lovejoy. You all know how much I love to photograph sports, but as you all also know, wrestling is an indoor sport. And since most of you have been inside a school gym at some point, you know that the lighting in a school gym is terrible! Almost worse than the lights in the dressing rooms at shopping malls. Right?
Everything that is shot in a gym always looks yellow and orange to me. You have to slow your shutter speed down to allow more light to come in, but the light coming in is terrible. And since it’s sports filled with lots of movement and action, a slow shutter speed causes the images to be blurry.
But I was very curious about this sport, so I accepted the job and set out to read all I could about wrestling. Shooting a sport you’re completely unfamiliar with is hard, so I wanted to know something about it. I contacted my brother in law (a former wrestler), and I picked his brain for a while. After our conversation, I felt confident enough to walk into this wrestling match and appear as though I knew what I was doing…
What an amazing evening I had. Wrestling is a fascinating sport! My husband (acting as my second shooter) and I had so much fun. At points, we were so mesmerized by all the action that we forgot to take pictures. Between the two of us, we were able to get some great shots of these young men and women doing their thing.
The sport is very fast and very unpredictable. I was used to baseball, basketball and soccer photo sessions, where the action is somewhat predictable. In baseball, for instance, I know that once the batter hits the ball, he will be heading for first base, and then around the base path until he gets to home plate.
In soccer and basketball, I know where the person with the ball is headed – always towards the hoop at the end of the court, or the goal at the end of the field. As long as I’m focused on those areas, I will certainly get some good shots. With wrestling, there is nothing predictable. The only thing I could predict is where they would start at the beginning of the match.
Once the match started, it was a complete guessing game. I had a sort of “press pass” for this event, so I was able to sit on the floor at the edge of the wrestling mats to get my shots. This was perfect, because most (if not all) of the action is very low to the ground. Including where you often find the refs. Many times, they were flat on the mat with the wrestlers trying to determine if someone had been pinned or not.
The whole event was fascinating, and I would accept a job doing this again without hesitation. But the most interesting part of the entire evening was seeing the coach for the opposing team. When I was in highschool, many many years ago, we had a great wrestling team. It was my highschool that Lovejoy was competing against, and guess what…the coach is the same coach they had way back when I was attending highschool.
I recognized him immediately. Not because I was on the wrestling team, but because this coach taught me American History back in the day. My junior year, I think… Small world, right? I was going to try to get up the nerve to go speak with him, but once I saw the veins bulging out of his neck as he “cheered” on his wrestlers, I thought to myself that this was probably not the time to reminisce about highschool days gone by…
So I survived my first wrestling match. And it was fun, challenging, and a bit scary… Here’s to being brave enough to try something new. Something that you know nothing about, except for the fact that it will be a difficult photo session. These situations keep me on my toes, and they inspire me to continue to learn all I can about my craft. I’m excited for my next new adventure in photography.
If there’s an event you’d like photographed that I can help you with, you can find me over at Paula Mason Photography! Just send me a message.
Until next time…